you study the pictures on the boxes,
pick out stocks, chrysanths, snapdragons,
the strongest and healthiest. Why is it
so hard to choose. Twenty years ago

we ate tough rump and laughed at the waitress
for chilling the house red, at the next couple
for sitting not speaking all evening, not like us.
Last night the tournedos were tender, the claret

chambre and we did not say anything. Today,
our bedding plants tucked in the boot, we drink tea
from flowered cups and a monsoon drums its heels
on the café roof begging to be let in.

in Listening to Dancing

 

– Ray Fisher

The second anniversary of Janet’s death has just passed. A few weeks ago in the Meeting House I was shown the plan, the one that opens like a book to reveal the tabulation of names, each hand-written, each framed within the carefully-drawn grid. I had seen it before, but this time there was one more name.

Outside in the burial ground the headstone has stood for more than a year now, but one Yorkshire winter has done little to disguise its pristine newness as it almost shines in today’s gloom, distinguishing itself from its neighbours in a most un-Quakerly manner. But at least nature has been more obliging with the grave itself, as the various weeds and grasses have encroached over the bare earth. As I reflect that Janet would no doubt be able to identify them I recall the poem whose title sums me up. Its final lines spark a vivid memory, one that would surely have been lost without her words to prompt it, and I reflect on the countless similar trivialities of everyday life together now gone for ever.