from ‘New Cemetery’

Simon Armitage

dear Hey Lane Cemetery 
        Resident Poet, a.k.a.
                self-appointed Clerk of Works

(Cadavers Division), a.k.a. 
        one-man Inspectorate
                of Graveyard Bins;

why shouldn’t plots be sunk 
        by banana-yellow
                Caterpillars and JCBs,

toothed buckets incising 
        coffin-ready slots
                with three quick chomps? |

and why is a müller
        Peach and Apricot Fruit Corner
                (two parts yoghurt,

one part comfiture) 
                graveside fodder? |

yeah yeah, you’d rather
        the shrivelled chestnuts or rusty apples
                from bordering trees

whose worming roots 
        are wired direct
                into matter and marrow;

you’d rather we shovelled dirt
        to test its weight, to taste 
                the metallic tang

in the whispered half-rhymes 
        of earth and death
                on the spade’s tongue
in the dream again
        he leadeth me
                along Shady Row –

that canyoned track
        between teetering mills –
                to tightrope walk

the dye-pan walls |
        and leadeth me
                to the shunting yard

and the cinder tips,
        onto Ready Carr
                (you following this?) |

then to Bramhall’s field |
        then above Wood Top
                to the sycamore tree

we gouged and stabbed 
        (it’s been felled)
                by Beardsall’s hut |

and leadeth me
        to that unnamed tract
                where Old Mount Road

shadows Rock View,
        past the clumps of woodbine
                we tried to smoke |

through abandoned allotments 
        and chicken coops,
                over footings and earthworks,

Phoenician hearths, 
        Etruscan foundries,
                the palimpsest of Jerusalem

under Yorkshire stone,
        the Marsden cuckoo
                alive in its tomb,

its muffled
        fuck you, fuck you;
                fuck you, fuck you