The Martial Artist’s Funeral

Linda reading:

Thugs with flowers came.
There’s no other way to put it.
You know, guys with thick necks,
leather coats and dreadlocks—
lads with tattoos, earrings, shaved heads—
bouncers with barrel chests
and arms which hung down,
gorilla-style, away from their bodies—
muscle-bound, their shoulders tight,
just plain bloody strong.

These hard men with flowers,
stood in the drizzle and talked
about the man they’d loved.
He had taught each one of them
how to let the punches pass.
It was simple really— block, then step aside.
These men together, damp from the rain
and the sweat of a thousand years of training,
put their flowers down and stepped straight in
before they lifted and shouldered the box.

The Wedding Spy

Linda reading:

I went to your son’s wedding today
in a carefully chosen outfit.
I wore the kind of dress
an aunt of the groom is supposed to wear,
but I think it was a bit too long.
I had a hat, which slipped slightly
onto my left eyebrow.
I wore brick coloured sandals with straps.

I kissed the people whose lips moved,
shook hands when a hand was extended.
I sat where I saw my name on a card
and spoke only of family connections.
‘The groom is my nephew,’
I said to the mother of the bride.
She was happy enough with that,
scanning my face for resemblance.

People talked to me, remembering you
and I remembered you too.
In fact, as they spoke, I thought I was you,
being me, in a mint cotton dress,
a straw hat and brick coloured shoes.
I wore jewellery and stayed at a proper hotel.
Anyone could reach me there
but later no one phoned.

Remember the yarmulkes,
the chuppa, the Hebrew prayers?
The rockies, the sun, the Colorado jays?
I stayed a spy as long as I could
without slipping or losing myself
in the accents and outfits forever.
You would have fitted in better.
I wish you had impersonated yourself.