Slow Music


There is dancing, slow music, some songs;
many of them have not done this for years;
stories about the man have been dusted down
and his five brothers have been found and now
they gather here with the wine and cheese and
two brothers are dancing on the terrace, telling
each other tales, old secrets, where things had
to be hidden, not trusting some of the women,
in particular his wife who has lost everything
except for her husband’s suit and a shirt and a
bright tie, all laid out by the side of the doorway,
all reminding them of a face and a voice and even
the man’s hairstyle; and there are his shining shoes
and a single medal and a pile of the letters sent long
ago; anybody can read them but nobody does, they
cannot be sure what the letters might say and they
do not want to look the wife in the eye, admit things;
they do not want to talk about where some silver is
hidden and the bell to the church and the things that
they stole; they do not want to go through deceptions
and sudden loss of memory and the game of letting
the truth slip in and out like some lizard or insect,
the language of silences and cast down eyes; today is
about other things and showing some respect and how
deep the blood might go and dressing the dead man in
a suit and a shirt and a tie and shining shoes but no body.
Later, when the rain comes that evening it smells of earth
and dead birds. The mourners have all departed. In her head
she can hear them closing their doors again. She will never
sell his suit. At dawn she will carry it out of the house and
carefully fold its light as she buries it in the centre of silence.

David Grubb