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Jewish Funeral

In memory of Rachael Farrar, teacher

The wide field north of London slopes to woodland.
The little digger waits, its job half done.
The tolling voice, in English and in Hebrew,
Consoles the living: life and death are one.

The sentences and prayers, like these gulls inland,
Are tousled in the wind and flung away.
She said she knew her spirit wouldn’t travel:
The afterlife’s a comfort and a lie.

Her teacher’s talent was to spot in learners
The impulse of a nameable idea.
She helped them name it, and the knowledge given
Was something she denied had come from her.

The coffin settles by its chance companions.
The clay is rattling on the wood too soon.
The London children who have cause to thank her
Are walking in their thousands round the town.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington