I wouldn’t like folk to think I’m as morbid as some of these poems and stories might suggest. I live adjacent to a cemetery, and regularly walk through it to reach the minimarket. I’ve come to recognise many of the headstones; particularly the neglected ones. They assume distinct characters, and one must admire the stoic way they stand, year after year guarding their graves.
Seasons change, so the cemetery is not always bleak. In spring, buds open revealing a blaze of tiny flowers, and you walk beneath a shower of delicate white petals. Green foliage quickly expands to fill this overhead canopy, providing shade from the summer sun. It would be nice if summer could last forever, but all too soon autumn arrives, and the leaves change to an intense gold colour, before falling and transforming the path into a magic ‘yellow brick road’.
Winter again, and the trees are bare. The icy north wind blows unhindered through the cemetery, and clouds pack together sucking all colour from the world. By now, I’m well wrapped up in a thick coat, hat, gloves and scarf. This is when rhymes creep into my head.
The Red Poppy represents my grandfather who was killed in action during the First World War. This is one of the hand-made ceramic poppies that formed a spectacular installation in the moat at the Tower of London. There were 888,246 poppies, representing the spilled blood a British or Colonial military fatality during that war.