First inquest



It was the glowing cigarette
handed from a passenger seat
into the driver’s eye
that did it.

A lads’ trip: father and son,
the wet road to Sheppey.
That and the cigarette
I remember.

I noted every detail
in what was then meticulous
shorthand. The notebook
was Air Force blue.

We were instructed to draw margins
down the right side of the page
to mark what was essential.
A place to highlight details

like that cigarette. Like the comments
of the coroner, which I forget.
Or the landslide in the son’s face
which still rumbles

in aftershocks in all those faces since,
crumpling in recognition
of faces they’d give anything
to recall.

This poem was selected for the anthology The Very Best of 52.
Picture by John Marchan used under Creative Commons licence.


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