I love this poem by Roger White, about visiting the grave of Shoghi Effendi in London. Arnos Grove is the name of the Tube stop at the end of the Piccadilly line where you get off to go to the cemetery. I was just there a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. My heart is in London in so many ways. But it’s just a nostalgic belonging and that’s why I love this poem so much. It talks so beautifully about grief…
She is old and unabashedly English
and undeceived by the thin spring sunlight
uncompromisingly wears worn self-caricaturizing tweed.
Her brisk stride brooks no nonsense
seems to hold the very street in place.
Sparrow-bright her head tilts to my question
betrays an interest belied by the reply
clipped neatly as a privet hedge.
Straight on the circle then
bear right through Brunswick Mews to the gate.
She hovers, cocked to my foreignness
and risks the impropriety.
You’re young to be visiting a cemetery.
Someone you love?
Love and honour, I aver, marveling
that reverence be so domestically compressed.
Her eyes peck briefly at the unexpressed
and misting swivel toward the solid slab of road
sweep the resolutely decorous shopfronts.
They’re lovely to visit, the dead.
So still and yet not lonely.
Each year I feel a little closer.
A trained restraint chokes off the rush of words.
She bustles away, unthanked,
skimming raggedly as on a vagrant wind
past a dense cluster of sluggish shoppers
intent on meager errands.
Now, diminishing, only her purposeful shopping bag
bulging with pedestrian purchases
seems to secure her to earth.