The Web Poetry Corner - James Bredin - A Conversation in the Cemetery
A Conversation in the Cemetery
Hi Otto. I just came by to say hello,
Though I know you’re buried six feet below.
You’ve been down there now for the past three years,
And Wilma’s eyes still fill up with tears.
I bought a plot just over the wall,
In case Marion or I get the sudden call,
Yes, I knew you wouldn’t be too impressed,
But you went sudden: who’d have guessed?
It’s been forty years since we came to town,
Looking for jobs and wearing a frown,
You were a Russian and I’m a Mick,
Bought two houses built of brick.
I know now why we got along,
We were both so sure of what was right or wrong,
I drove an old car and you took the bus,
But we always found a lot to discuss.
‘Bout Stalin who sent your folks to Siberia,
Where along the way they died from diphtheria,
Or in the deep mines of Karaganda,
Where commissars sang their propaganda.
And in fifty six in the cold war thaw,
You both got permission to withdraw,
From that great communist political arena,
You and Wilma with baby Lena,
And how you got out; three days on the train,
Just to Moscow in the heavy rain,
Journey to Germany to Wilma’s folks,
Contracting in construction telling Russian jokes.
You told me ‘bout your brother at Chernobyl.
Trucking through nuclear stuff, quite noble,
But he too went long before his time,
Ravaged in that nuclear radiation crime
Remember when we made beer together?
To sip in the shade in hot summer weather?
We couldn’t afford to buy bought beer then,
So we made those brews again and again.
Then we discovered that batch turned funky,
Smelled like crap and tasted skunky,
We came to the conclusion it was the yeast,
Those eight-cent packages had just been released.
You worked for Wilson’s Ginger Ale?
When they moved to Don Mills to improve their trade,
Then closed shop ‘cause someone bought them out.
Left you looking for a job beyond a doubt.
But you got another job - you did it quite pronto,
That’s one good thing ‘bout living in Toronto.
That’s why we came here in the very first place,
To get a job, feed our folk and own a little space.
You remember Don Sargent the great guy next door
They buried him down there, a hundred yards, no more,
So we’ll all be together for eternity I think
It’s a beautiful place if we could have a little drink.
I’ve got to go now; you know I’m retired.
Got to cut the grass and I’m not all that inspired.
I’ll be here myself so I’ll shed no tears
Not too soon I hope, God give me many years