Applause greeted the end of the presentation
For almost 90 minutes he held attention captive with
presentation and Q& A
smooth, fluid speaking
nuauced, thoughtful answers.
Environmental integrity and ecological commitment
not so much coated in, as impregnated.
In the mid-1980s I watched
with a blend of outrage and marvel
pre-Greenpeace old inorganic material –
transformers, truck bodies, refrigerators
were placed on the McMurdo Sound’s frozen waters
dissolving from view with the dissolving ice.
The speaker had been a senior manager
no mention of the then environmental vandalism
an eco-warrior now.
Grandad died in 1963
the same year JFK was assassinated
according to Philip Larkin, sex was invented.
His wife had died years before,
when the children strained into the distance
and concentrated really hard, they could just make her out.
My mother said his funeral was on an autumn Saturday
under graphite skies.
She said she always remembered two things –
the creaking of the mechanism lowering him into the earth
and the grace of God enabling her
to make it to the refuge of the car before any tears –
“ breaking down,” she called it.
Where to put the grief
for the man who had been both father and mother
– anywhere but in public
– “ no one wanted any fuss,
that’s how it was in those days.”
For 10 years, he brought vicarious glamour to my parents’ world
not so much namedrop
as name slip –
slipped into conversations
enjoying the association and response.
His fame lasted after his time on centre stage
becoming an emeritus figure
often sought for comment or opinion.
and the fall.
Irish superstitions prevailed in our family
admission to heaven especially
all kinds of caveats could be applied
unmourned souls being considered less eligible.
When the former acquaintance died
there was no mention of a requiem or interment
it passed unacknowledged and unmentioned.