I spit upon this dreadful banker's grave
who shot his heart out in a Florida dawn - John Berryman, writing about his fatherís suicide
I donít visit stepmotherís grave.
Never been obliged.
My family brings a practicality
to its emotions.
Illusion of control
though noneís in evidence,
from all the needless rage Iíve seen.
She was cremated. Urn buried.
And when we came home
I picked up the phone
and was greeted by a womanís voice
asking if my fatherís wife was there.
Weíve just come from her funeral, I said.
That wasnít the only strange event
to associate with her passing.
On the morning I knew she was dead
I nipped to the loo
and saw her daughter in the hall.
Barely four years old, she grinned and said
did you hear that mummyís dead?
I had, I said.
I do not spit upon her grave.
But neither can I dwell on it as one
in love with tragedy.
Life is not a formulated narrative,
and I canít bring myself
to write something arch and beautiful
about my stepmotherís suicide,
as if she was a pattern in stained glass
or characters inscribed upon a page.
She died in an Essex dawn,
is all Iíll say by way of poetry.
The rest is just sad fact.