‘We are going home rejoicing / where Our Father’s dwelling stands.’
– from Going Home Rejoicing by F. Crosby & J. Sweney
Granny’s coffin stands as if a spine has met the grain,
open to her life-sized portrait decomposing in the heat –
corrugated shack: a boiling pot; lid: sun-buckled roof.
Even dead, propped against a corner to save space,
she can sense grandfather slump back on a sagging chair.
Knows he will not buy a stone carved with her name.
It would cost a week of pay when he never works
two days in a row without the need to rest, recuperate.
Rum is medicine of choice. Falling down another cure.
He is sick enough to let her rot so he will not have to be alone.
Arms across her breasts, she calls the spirit-soul – strength
beyond mere breath – to rouse my mother in our Kilburn flat.
She shivers with the cold, blinks in the light. Flies
a plane towards an inch of yard-made-landing strip.
Ignores the weeping on the chair. Nails the coffin down.
Shoulders to a plot. Shovels dirt. Chisels stone –
granny’s name along with her three titles: Wife, Mother, Drudge.
A hymn seeps from the mound – I am going home rejoicing.