The Protocols For Dying
Death visits regularly on this street.
Many of the people you might meet
have lived here for a long time,
right up until the day they died.
The protocols for dying are all
complex, even more than for living.
There is the alarum, the unseen call
to doctors or nurses or persons
who may or may not need to know
about the dying. And then,
when the dead are done, the others
come. The undertakers, dressed
in bodach black, stand reverently
at the door, hands held respectfully,
at the groin. Heads a-tilted,
they enter, gurneyed and gurning,
with the flat look of worn care
that the dead demand, and they
carry the beloved dead aloft, off
to the land of fire and brimstone,
or natural gas, whichever comes first.
Some came today, to collect the bones
of someone we had never known,
a visitor who came and went, rudely, while
a-visiting. The undertakers, ever caring,
left the doors of the discreetly marked
private ambulance open the whole time,
so the rest of the street could see inside.
The other bodies in there didn’t seem to mind.
And soon will come the angels of death,
the funeraries who live for the dead,
the ritualisers and sympathisers,
the ones who make a thing out of dying,
which is beyond all understanding,
because the thing about dying
is that it’s nothing at all.