by Rebecca Bilkau

When I drank a cup of tea with his body
back in Belfast there, I learned for sure: tea

is a life saver. Chapels Of Rest are parching,
when you watch alone, with no talk to be had.

George, living, had been a round, chatty man.
Coffined, beard trimmed, he resembled Lenin

though living, Lennon was his main man, hence
the everlasting round specs. Now missing.

George was Buddhist. Protestant Buddhist
you’ll want to know, but scunnered with marches,

bands, drums so big they cut the wrists of men
who banged them; sickened by the screech

of poverty of his or anyone else’s side. Dead,
he’s laid out in sound of the clanking of dark

yellow cranes, mighty giants of shipyards
also mostly defunct. It’s 1993. The trouble

-oh, let’s say the violence – is sporadic, but fear
is as faithful as your dog. So forget impartial

funeral parlours, delegate the blow-in with the right
roots, – roughly – to gate-keep safe passage

for Catholic Buddhists who scramble across
peace lines (irony, concrete) to take five

with George, fellow shambler along the road
to enlightenment. They don’t like to, but still

accept a cup of tea, do a bit of breathing.
Smile. A bit of a revolutionary, George, god

love him. They disguise their names in the book
of condolence. Go their way. I make another brew.

Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.