"When they died we had to lay them out
in the house as they weren't allowed
near the hospital; and it were nearly
always fatal. So when it started we knew
it probably wouldn't be long. They'd bring
coffins in and your mother would make you go and look.
"Isn't she lovely." they'd say, but all you wanted
was for her to sit up, climb out and play.
If it were your dad you'd be dead scared,
warily hanging back by the door, and she'd say,
"He didn't hurt you when he were living." (which he did)
"So he's not going to hurt you now. Go and kiss him."
Which we did, secretly wondering at the cold marble
of the skin while the sun shone so fierce outside.
We'd have that for three days: relatives, neighbours,
even them he said he never liked arrived.
Worst was the smell of lavender.
Lavender was all we could smell.
My stomach still turns to this day if I so much as
catch one whiff.
Then they came and screwed down the lid
and that were the the finish of it. "