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In honour of my grandfather, Philip Murray, RIP Oct 27 2015.

MUERTA

Me_cafe_rougeby Jake Murray20 Nov 2015

MUERTA

(for my grandfather RIP 2015)

gathered about your death,
your hand in my father’s,
your hand in my brother’s,
my hand on your shoulder,
we watched you go,
loading your chariot
with love, as much love
as we could give you as
you went off.

alone in the room with you,
we three stood about
your coffin as the mourners
waited, looking down on your
mystery. above you the symbols
of your people, flowing in our blood,
emblazoned on the window
in the strange, bunker-like chamber,
the star of david, the menorah.

as i spoke to the upturned faces
i thought of the rhythm of your final days,
of travelling to you, talking to you,
caught in the stark light of a
bedside lamp as night came in,
the white light of the winter days
as you were tended, by women
whose loyalty you had won
by your kindness.

lucid, you wondered, and talked
of life, of love, of my childhood;
unconscious, you lay like a man
submerged, mouth open, only coming up
to breathe, eyes opening for a moment
on whoever was around you,
then descending again, moving
between whatever dreams and people
you witnessed there.

one time you reached out,
murmuring; in all that time you drained me,
but the draining was one of love,
given willingly; time spent with you,
beside you, holding your hand as you
calmed yourself; when you could not speak
you would smile, or a thumb’s up,
even when your body was immobile lead,
your mouth unyielding and dry.

you were teaching us how to die.
the joys of growing old, you used to say,
signposts on the way, you left us.
the impossible man, we called you,
and when you went, defying all,
you left a trail of beauty, the kindness
you had had in life you scattered
behind you in death. we held you,
the three of us, not knowing

who you were, this man who had
gone before, so many questions
not asked, so many answers not given,
in silence, a last gasp, a last movement,
then gone. i do not know how to mourn you.
these words, offered now, your birthday
gone, are all i can say. may my body carry
me on. let the sun rise. let us greet
the unfathomable day.