The gardens I remember the most aren’t always where I expect to find them. On our holiday in Sicily last week, we stopped the car to walk round this massive cemetery. From the road it looked like a row of beach huts so we wanted to know what it was like inside…
But inside it was the care taken by the cemetery gardeners and families to make the place beautiful that was particularly moving, often it was the smallest, gentlest planting that made us stop and think. This was so much about love.
As was the way the silence was broken by birds singing loudly and enthusiastically in the surrounding trees…
So here’s the poem I wrote there. I think I can safely say it’s the first poem I’ve ever written in a cemetery…
Watching my husband text at Scicli Cemetry
So many roads of the dead to walk down.
I try to hear all their voices but listen
to the birds instead, their small but constant
conversation. Sometimes, in an effort
to make this a heavier memory, I rest my hand
on a gravestone, see a small child’s angel
wrapped in the shadow of a grandmother’s
cross, hope the proximity of a footballing dad
with the teenage cyclist is deliberate,
the fresh wild flowers amongst dusty
plastic roses, a sprig of jasmine
in a water bottle, yews, more yews.
Would I want to be with my mother’s family,
or rest in my husband’s crypt?
My children – no, they’ve no place here,
and I’m at the crossroads looking down
at so much love, so much hope,
when I catch him, my partner in life,
and yes, death too, bent over his phone,
as if any of it really mattered
when our lives are so free, being temporary,
and he’s laughing at a joke that I know
he’s already planning to tell me later,
and still, still, the birds sing on.