Life is precious…


I have not posted any poetry recently.

This is partly because I have not written any recently- these things tend to come in batches. I have also been busy writing some other stuff.

I thought it time to post an old poem though…

For my day job, I work with people who have mental health problems. In one of the towns where I manage staff, there have been a spate of suicides recently. This time of year, when the days are short and stormy, and the nights are dark and cold- it can be fatal for those of us for whom life already is hard.

Each and every time this happens, the impact on the whole community is dreadful.

Because life is precious.

I have posted something earlier about Choose life , and breathing space. Suicide rates in Scotland are just too high.

A few years ago, we lost someone I knew well- another victim of a life caught up in alcohol use. I watched him slowly washed away- work, family, home, cognition- all that he had been- and each and every role dissolved, until all that was left was his fragile humanity.

And this was beautiful. He would have given away his last penny. He would have shared his last sip and last drag of rolling tobacco.

And one day, we broke down his door because he had not been seen for a while. And what was left of him had become part of the bed he died in.

I was one of the few mourners at his funeral, and wrote this poem;

Brothers and sisters, life is short
A magical, miracle thing
That marches by- at first all shiny buttons
Then ragged worn, battle done.

So, in drab but polished municipality
I watch as a man is laid to rest
As his empty husk is processed- be it kindly
And hear a minister talk of faith and love
And speak some tender words to family
Who gather to say goodbye to a man they hardly knew

And I am grateful
Thankful that in this weary way
We humans still value dignity in death

For life is precious
Light flickers, then goes dark

Neville lived and now is gone
And father, lover, brother, son
Soldier, husband, drinking man-
Will be seen no more.

And as the blue velour curtains close
I think of the man entering eternity
Leaving few ripples, no disturbance
Needing no fanfare to his passing
Just sadness for a gentle soul
Time gone, now in everlasting

© Chris Goan

On Neville’s funeral 22.9.04

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