It was cold the day they buried me,

the mist shrinking back

from the hump of the hill.

The crows had arrived early.

They gathered like sleek flowers

in the branches of the undressed

oaks, strangely silent, as if waiting

to welcome the mourners, as they

walked, in sombre step, to their

expected places. That’s

the thing about being dead …..

you get to see things as they really


were, rather than how you thought

they were. It’s not quite the same as

when you are alive but it is similar.

Death has a way of making things


very clear.  It forces you to see even

as it blinds you.  Don’t get me wrong,

I wasn’t completely taken unawares.

After all, Death had been my companion


for many years. We had walked together,

through bright nights and dark days for

longer than I cared to forget, but I had

managed, through most of that time,


not to look too closely. But there comes

a time when it isn’t a matter of choice,

and you have no option. That’s when

Death holds your face in her long,



burning fingers and forces you to look

deep into her eyes. You can fall into

those eyes and never find your way

back. That’s why it’s better to choose



while you can. We can change our lives,

simply by choosing. But most of us do not

know that. The milk-haired girl taught me

that truth. Her face turned toward the wind,



poised like The Fool upon the precipice,

daring all to follow her into the unknown.

Like ancient Mania’s moon-child, she

clung to the bars that separated her



from the churning sea,   as if at any

moment she might take flight and

soar through the brooding heavens,

at one with the screaming gulls.

I can still see her now, even though



it was so very long ago … the image

engraved upon memory, finely worked

with feeling. And that’s the other thing

Death taught me; it’s not enough just to



think about things, you have to feel them.

But I’m getting ahead of myself and stories

are meant to have a sequence. I’m not sure

why though, because most of the time life



doesn’t. We all like to think that it does, but

often it doesn’t. In truth it’s only something

we tell ourselves, in order to create the illusion

of certainty. But there is no certainty, never



was and never will be.  When you look back

there’s nothing much of substance either.

It’s just a collection of moments pulled

together into something we call a story.

The truth is that most of the time we

live in the bits of our lives, dropping

in and out at the whim of what we

call consciousness. It’s an erratic




process and it’s a wonder that we’re

not all crazy by the end of it. The story

that we make out of the dregs and

dross of our lives that is the most



important thing because that is where

we find meaning, and meaning, I’ve

come to see, is the one quality that can

make the worst of life bearable.


Every story lives of and through itself

and it is in the telling that the threads

are sorted and re-worked. I happen

to think that words are living, feeling



things and, like human beings,  they

breathe most deeply in the spirit of

change. And so the pattern is the same,

and yet different; the telling is true,



and yet false, and the story is timeless

and yet changed.  For it is in the changing

that we can find a place for ourselves

in the story; and in the doing, re-make



the bed in which we must lie. This story

belongs to many, but we must all find our

own place in it. For life does not have

beginnings until we look back.  There are


those who would say it has no future either,

only the eternal now, but it is of the future

that we dream most often, forgetting that

the past is both source and pattern of all dreams.


About rosross

Editor, writer, poet.
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