Next Time I'll Bring Flowers

Empty conker cases hide amongst the leaves,
I find one intact.
Neither spilt underfoot nor opened too early.
Smooth, round and cool between my fingers,
cold as the earth it came from.
I roll it across my palm and into my coat pocket.
I walk down a dark avenue of overhanging trees.
Footsteps blend into the trodden leaves.
Passing out from under the trees my thoughts catch up to me.
When did I get so sentimental?

I'm in a cemetery, not entirely sure of how I got here.
But I know why.
"Sorry," I say reaching the grave. "It's been a while."
And it has.
The last time I stood here was almost two years ago.
A cold Christmas eve.
Now it's autumn,
the leaves are golden and dead,
And just like last time,
I don't know what to say.

So I start to babble,
the most useless drivel spills from my lips.
I stand there at your feet,
repeating every other thing that's gone on.
Until then I run out of things to say.
Then I'm stood still, aware of families watching me.

Seeing them together I realise,
I'm alone.
And then it hits me again.
You're dead.
You're gone.
And no matter what I say,
You're not coming back.

The old clichés catch up with me,
my eyes start to burn and a lump catches in my throat.
My vision narrows so all I can see is the headstone.
Husband, Father and Grandfather.
"Do they still visit?" I wonder aloud.
Does Grandma still lay flowers every first Sunday of the month?
When was the last time Mam came down here?
Have my cousins ever been here at all?

I can't be the only one.
The flowers from another visitor are still fresh.
Seeing them causes a bitter guilt to rise up,
Every time I come here I always forget…
I stuff my hands in my pockets,
Something smooth and cool knocks against my hand.
I take it out then let it roll off my fingers.

The conker stands apart from the flowers,
They are slowly dying, while the conker has only begun.
And then I know its time to go.
I run my hand over the marble fondly as I pass.
"Next time" I say "I'll bring flowers."