When first told I was to see our dad
My young mind imagined bandaged heroes laid in dormitories
Not a sea of rock flotsam,
The invasion of walking across them
Stepping in and about and around them,
in an all-but twitching void. Flapping of flower wrappings
Each stone either a glib shrine or overgrown neglect
A geometrically organised overbite that was once moving flesh.
Back then I thought 38 was old.
We arrive at our stone, his sister and nephew on one side, gone just as fast
Three souls fled prematurely that month, joined hand in hand
Their plaque emblazoned ‘ We loved you
…Jesus must have loved you more’.
We gaze at the painted words during that momentary strangeness of arrival.
The chime of ice-cream van melodies
Juxtaposed with the smell of trowelled earth
Fixes my association with the sound forever.
We shriek as we unearth a worm
A huddled ceremony of women who chatter whilst weeding
And then manage a sober silence to mutter words of prayer.
Years later, a new family member
Four-legged, lays himself over the patch instinctively.
His sudden upside-down frolic
Makes this place, 19 years later, a different world from those sad photos
With young faces shellshocked
Taken when the hole was freshly dug.
We pick up our rubbish and decamp, this time back to my car.
I have few memories of my own
But for now I’ll go on borrowed memories, and photographs
Until I meet them again.
For Leszek Dybisz 1952-1990