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Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

Living in the Heart's Memory


A gentle touch upon the forearm
with a hand, gloved or warm with life,

outside the church door;
turning away from the open grave;
by that concrete place
where they lay the floral tributes
by the cemetery chapel;
or later, as you hand the food around;

a gentle touch upon the forearm
or a hand sought for to squeeze and hold; or
man to man, they favour a shoulder briefly gripped,
as if that’s the pressure point
where empathetic camaraderie should be applied;

the single sentence of consolation,
sometimes so well rehearsed, it comes out awkwardly –
‘she’ll be much missed…’
‘you have so many memories…’
‘he’ll always be there in our hearts…’
‘if there’s anything…’

they’ve been through this, themselves,
or fear the time they shall –

…‘words must be said,
but yet there are no words for this;
accept then, these few words
in lieu of that deep silence
which is itself in lieu of words…’

* * *

measured, immutable, as precise
as any equation of the calculated world,
the heart’s memories:
every moment that our heart in many years
opened to them, the heart has stored.

We know the mind can span the imagined world –
from travel brochures to the thought of heaven;
yet we forget that greater still, the heart is vast –
there’s all the room for them to live on there,
sustained by every moment of love freely given; for
the whole creation is one single act of love.



[written for a bereavement website]

Submitted: Sunday, April 15, 2007
Edited: Monday, February 14, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Living in the Heart's Memory by Michael Shepherd )

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  • Rookie Not a member No 4 (4/15/2007 8:06:00 AM)

    I'll try again! !

    '.... warm with life, '

    '.... the pressure point,
    where empathetic camaraderie should be applied'

    '.... as precise
    as any equation of the calculated world,
    the heart's memories: '

    As much as your deft phrasing and handling of genuinely atmospheric language, it's your sharp eye for telling detail as exemplified by the above and many other quality lines that elevate this into the league of the very best. Authentically moving,
    this epitomises to perfection the atmosphere of the aftermath, its many moods and rationale. Authoritative writing of the highest order. jim (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »

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