Susan UttingSusan Utting 


Wife of the Above

Edwin Gilbert, late of the Windsor Castle Hotel,
is silent under his shabby stone cross, has stopped
admonishing Harriet, Wife of the Above. Harriet

is sleeping undisturbed by the whoosh of passing
traffic, the shrieks of sirens, of children playing chase.
She doesn't hear the squabble and chirrup of small birds,
the sudden rancorous croak of a raven, or a rook.

Harriet and Edwin Gilbert are well away, under their
shabby stone cross, are unaware of the fat, black
indeterminate bird that's made its roosting place
up there, its place to huddle down, to cock its eye
at the sun, to keep still, still and absolutely quiet.

A passer-by asks why is the grass so long on these graves
and not on those
? I ask what kind of bird is that, it's like
a pigeon gone black with soot, even its beak's a blackout?

I do not ask her who was Edwin Gilbert. Was Harriet, wife
of the above, a good woman, a do-as-you-would-be-done-by
good sort? Was she a scold, fishwife-loud, a sloven? Did she
keep a neat house? Did she know her place, under the above,
under a soot-black bird, keeping quiet, and absolutely still?

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