Daunted

by Ieuan ap Hywel
The Writer's Block
Second Place, March 2019
Judged by Ruth Bavetta


He lay rigid, his tongue stuck
in a grimace, his last gesture to
this world with powder applied
carelessly that made him a clown.
Mam kept hugging his cadaver,
I gently drew her away. Laughter
leaked from the morgue attendant’s room.

The coroner too busy to see me
his voice sharp as a slaughter
man’s knife. ‘Was everything in order.’
I had doubts, but who could address
them. Dad’s gold ring missing,
his shattered femur, the outré orderly
claiming to be his doctor.

It rained all day, bucketed down,
the deluge as unrelenting as his demise.
Hours spent waiting for the certified entry.
Drove home in the dark, no time
to eat, white knuckles clenched on the wheel.

The hospital’s solicitor dismissed our complaints,
harangued us for not visiting, how could Sis visit
from Australia, half a world away. His letter stirred
up in me a savageness I am ashamed of.

I put away that anger, stored it for
another day;
now after twenty years I lay it out, disassemble
it, leave it to waft in the wind, fragments
that no one will remember.


Not an easy poem to read, the subject matter, the sordid details of death and attendant complications that twist grief into anger—the callous coroner, the missing ring, the unlikely doctor, the drive home, gripping the steering wheel in the driving rain. Then the final stanza redeems it all. It’s life, it’s in the past, it can be released. --Ruth Bavetta

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