She died on a hot day. In a way
Nothing was different. The stretched white
Sheet of her skin tightened no further.
She was fragile as a yacht before,
Floating so still on the blue day’s length,
That one would not know when the breath
Blew out and the sail finally slackened.
Her eyes had looked opaquely in the
Wrong place to find those who smiled
From the bedside, and for a long time
Our conversations were silent.
The difference was that in her house
The people were broken by her loss.
He wept for her and for the hard tasks
He had lovingly done, for the short,
Fierce life she had lived in the white bed,
For the burden he had put down for good.
As we sat huddled in pubs supporting
Him with beer and words’ warm breath,
We felt the hollowness of his release.
Our own ungrateful health prowled, young,
Gauche about her death. He was polite,
Isolated. Free. No point in going home.
by Gillian Clarke
from The Sundial (Gwasg Gomer) (1978)