15 APRIL 1989, Page 33

Funeral Games

The slow, black bell seems still to nod, its shadow Trembles in the gloom, a musky perfume Faint in the ear and mingling with the sweet Blue smoky exequies and far receding chop Of plodding hooves as she again goes in Through their familiar door and moves inside The still shocked house. She visits each dazed room, Leaving till last his favourite one — his books, So many, everywhere, as if, progenitive, They multiplied and spilled from shelves and chairs; The recorded Brandenburgs, the piano-lid Still raised and on the music-rest the Liszt Consolation Number Three, the pages cold, And, underneath the window, on his desk Pencils and speechless sheets of lined A4 With one apart on which a few words walk, A poem, perhaps, a letter to the Times; It does not matter now. She hoped to touch And be consoled by something of him here But nothing can dissolve or penetrate The robe of ice her heart elects to wear; These things, his toys, important trivialities, The best of him maybe, but only toys, As he and she might be the artefacts And toys of hands from which they have been dropped, Once greatly loved and cared for, but not now, Left in different rooms to feed on dust.

Vernon Scannell