Two minutes

In the silence of those mornings I could picture the last leaves fall from the beech above, hear them collect in drifts behind the graves. As if the cars had stopped on the tarmac with hazards on and windows wound down, to let in the still, as if they had at least tried. Perhaps even the aircraft were grounded, as I recall not one blemish on the width of azure stretched taut above our heads. Only the church spire and parapet —steeped in light that made us all tall—were allowed to interrupt the distant empty blue. I see the empty faces of the parade staring at the blank spot beyond their noses; in Sunday best and winter coats, fresh pressed navy threepiece suits with last year’s dryclean receipt screwed up inside and a pocket full of hymn sheets from all the years before. A semblance of grief from embroidered saints; on Whitwalk standards held high by the choir, a keening November wind filled them like sails.

Simon Broomhead