Art · Memorable words · Memories

Arnos Grove

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…

Arnos Grove

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

stakes ownership

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.


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