Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Chinaman

Recently I visited Newcastle Forest to perform a grim task. It fell to me to choose a permanent resting place for my noble pal, China. I picked a spot I know he would have approved of as we spent many a day there in the shadow of the widow-maker. He knew the way well and trod exactly the same forest path on many occasions. I recall wheeling dozens of barrow-loads of oak and beech from this spot to the forest road and he traversed the way with me on each and every occasion.

Ann Marie and Niamh carried him to his final sleeping place and together we buried him with the dignity he truly deserved.

Emperor son of wolf, the Chinaman, lies sleeping,
Stretching now at the curve of life's shoulder.
Guarded by the mother of the widow maker
At one with root, sinew and boulder.
All those last year leaves of browning and yellow
Crumpled with wrinkles of wisdom and knowing
The secrets of life, the birthing at death,
The end and beginning, the fading, the growing.

The Achin’ at parting, the briefest goodbye
His lifetime a heartbeat of Nature,
Skips now with his quarry, the good-natured deer
And every innocent creature.
He tramped on the ramp of my conscience
Every harsh word I mightn’t have framed
That was the difference between him and me
Only man deserves to be shamed.
He’s part of the ether again, as before
Where bright breezes chase little cloud sisters
Into airtight pockets away from the storm
And the stars and the moon echo his whispers.
Nobility’s rays; his own private sun,
Grief and guilt were never his lot
The ash and the oak, the beech and the briar
All guardians of his private plot.
And what to remember and treasure forever
His always affection, his kindness and manner,
His vision and listening without pupil or ear
The heart of his father, the dog with wolf’s banner.
As dainty as the dancer the graceful Nijinsky
To just walk behind him so supple of limb,
The glances, the dances, the style and the prances
He didn’t choose death, she found him.

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