When he thought of the chattels, removed
From the old house as a crime scene, identified
And inventoried, he wondered at how
The house of the deceased was already
Empty. Grand piano, now sarcophagus
For song; each jug, a patient urn; master bed,
A flesh-cold slab, almost immoveable.
Like a crossword, the clue for funeral
Is “Real fun arranged for an interment (7)”.
Among the family, it was carefully explained that
Floral tributes are deductible expenses:
This they knew. He also recalled that
The registration of death is separate to
The registration of the fact of death.
The reading of the Will was later still,
Such that the wishes of a testator are
The signature of a dead hand. Mortmain
Is the etymology of any trust, funnily enough,
Placing intention into lifeless fingers,
And the fingers grasp it.
The family had deducted their outgoings
Against the bleak umbrellas and the cortege
Of lacquer-glinting black. That most
Beloved son, they said. Gave all his names.
Not one of them had known just what he was.
That earth was not their earth to edify.
And thinking to that dead hand, he could state
That given his wishes, speaking now on paper
Louder than any human voice, that to this day
Every headstone is a perjury.