My sister, Yvonne, died by suicide in 1991 aged 27 years.
She is buried at Ballyoan Cemetery, Waterside, Derry, Northern Ireland.
This poem ‘GRANITE’ was inspired by my visits there.
“The silence of his absence is deafening”,
written in gentle gold on a granite block,
underneath the carving of a guitar.
He must have loved music.
So much so that those who wish him to be remembered,
wish him to be remembered, in part, for his music.
As a boy practising, I wonder if his mother proudly had him parade his tentative notes
before all who visited their home
in a show of pride.
Or, was she harried by the demands of housework and family,
shouting “keep that racket down, would ye.”
The cold inscription of his date of birth,
and his date of death,
brackets in breath-halts the span of this one life.
This music boy was hardly a man when felled
by the transitory, arbitrary nature of our world.
It is a tender site for a burial.
The graveyard slopes down the brae.
Life is caught in the whistle of a breeze through the trees,
and the rustle of my footsteps over well-tended grass.
Life is caught in my breathing as I move on from this grave,
to one further beyond and below.
Another cold inscription ;
the span of another life.
Another so short.
I stop at my sister’s grave.
I have seen it many times before.
It feels like the first.