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Alison Clayburn


You cannot mend the lives of others.
You cannot mend your other lives.
They have passed down the river,
under the bridge where you now stand
looking down at the mud and the sparkles
and the fallen, floating leaves.

You are just a leaf yourself. You are only
a leaf caught up in a puddle, awaiting rain
to take you to an eddy, a narrow stream,
maybe a still pool, maybe a restless ocean.

Or awaiting wind – air to lift you,
bowl you round walls,
catch you in corners,
spiral you up
to float over rooftops.
Eventually, to let you fall,
to let you


It is green and cool here. 
White blossom scatters – we call it confetti.
But we are here to honour a life,
not  a union. Except some
might call it a union.

Under a large soft orb, we gather
around floral tributes
from which the undertaker's man
removes the cards.  A plume of black smoke rises,
seems gone in an instant.

I wave goodbye, think of that other smoke
in the land of many cherry trees,
of the threat of evil confetti
where white is the colour of funerals. 
We celebrate a life. We hope.

Alison Clayburn was born in Hampshire, UK, near the sea. She now lives in London by the Thames. After a long career as a community worker she became an adult educator, specializing in language and communications. She teaches creative writing with an emphasis on personal development. Buddhism has helped her to make changes.