After the Mourners

By Jon Atkin

Location: Southern Cemetery, Chorlton

After the mourners had left the grave
I hung back to gaze
At the flinty names.
Mary-Ann – ‘Devoted Wife’,
Gilbert Treaves – ‘Called to the Lord’.
If you believed the stones,
All who lay about were Sunday’s children,
Loving, kind, and full of grace.

What if they proclaimed instead
The true life lived,
Those darker thoughts and deeds
Which death conceals?
Alec Browne – ‘Had no sense of personal hygiene’.
Matthew Woolton – ‘Kleptomaniac’,
Elizabeth Cox – ‘Feared water in all its forms’,
Harry Bilton – ‘Choked at 51,
In a sweaty bondage game’.

And then those sadder truths;
Martha Livesey – ‘Died in a solitary bed
Mourned by none’. Dr Tom Rogerson –
‘So bitter at life and all in it’.
Eleanor Fortnum – ‘Devout and quiet
Murderess’. Suddenly, the stones
Seemed eager to impart their secrets.

And what would my stone speak?
‘He feared life more than death’.
I smiled an inward smile
And walked towards the gate.

Jon Atkin helps run the Manchester Literature Festival and the Manchester Amateur Choral Competition. He writes only occasionally.



3 Responses to “After the Mourners”

  1. November 11, 2008 at 4:03 pm, Sile said:

    You might be closer than you know. There’s a well-known local murderess at rest there, a famous fascist and a football team of nuns…The thing is though- will those in the know let those stones speak? The answer, as you know, is ‘no’…

  2. August 09, 2009 at 1:13 am, mark page said:

    “He writes only occasionally” Shame he should do it more often. I love the idea of this site.

  3. May 01, 2010 at 3:46 pm, Iain Robinson said:

    Like all good things, this looks as if it was easy to write, as if it needed to be written. It’s an idea I’ve often thought about, except you put it much better than I could. You should write more!


Leave a Reply




Via email: