OLIVER WINTRINGHAM


LETTER TO MY SPOUSE

Hello dear!

Since I saw you last,
I've had rather a difficult few days,
and I can't wait to share it all with you.

I left the hospital before you, clutching their plastic bag
with the itemised list that ends
... shoes; spectacles; 1 yellow metal ring.

And I went straight to that shop in the high street.
Oh! you would have laughed!
Remember buying that used car?  This was much the same! 
Not quite so expensive, but all the same tricks.
They deliberately keep one over-priced model in teak,
and another that is rubbish, but cheap.
"We really don't advise that one; the handles are plastic.
Just think if they came off at the wrong moment ..."

So the one I finally bought was middle-of-the-range,
which is supposed to make me feel good.
I hope it is comfortable?

Today has been carefully planned, as well as I could. 
Thank goodness, it's not raining.   Your flowers are nice.
I realise now that (if you were here)
I would leave the whole day to you to organise.
Oh dear!  Did I do that a lot?

I did not accept the priest they offered;
well, I know your opinion of mullahs and popes.
So now it seems that I'm the one in charge.
Imagine!  I'm facing all these people,
as if I were a priest myself!

Yes you may smile, but please don't catch my eye.
I have no wish to laugh out loud
in this room they call a chapel.
Please help me keep a straight face
as I push the two buttons.

An hour ago I was not sure I could do this...
But we will laugh together when I tell you,
and that thought gave me some strength. 

Silence.  I could make a speech.  About you I mean.
But that feels wrong.  So ... silence.
Inside my head I rehearse what I was told to do.
"Button A starts the music".  So I do that.
Are you pleased?  It's your own cassette: your favourite.

Now I'm astonished, but trying to look grave.
Are you playing a joke on us?
You have just set off all by yourself, rocking a little,
heading straight for the wall, like a suitcase on an airport belt.
Little doors, behind curtains,
open just in time and close behind you.
But we did have a glimpse through there of roaring flames:
unconvincing symbols of hellfire.

The music continues.   What was my final duty?
"Button B turns off the music, and opens the exit doors. 
Please keep an eye on the clock!
We have other groups through here all day, every twenty minutes..."

Goodbye.  I miss you.  We shared everything, and already I can see
that's what I'll miss most.

love

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