This is a poem called 'The Conjuror' and it arose quite fortuitously as poems we all know so often do. We'd been to a funeral and we got there too early - it was one of those days you know when they come in every twenty minutes and we spent the time looking round the graveyard and saw something which I think would have appealed to anyone's imagination - a conjuror's grave.
Arriving early at the cemetery
For ‘the one o’clock’, we looked around
At the last sparks of other people’s grief,
The flowers fading back into the ground.
A card inscribed ‘With reverent sympathy
From the Magicians’ Club’ was propped against
A top hat made of blossoms and a wand
Tied with a black velvet bow. We sensed
The rabbits and the ladies sawn in half
One blink away from being visible
Although the quick deceiving hand was changing
To flyaway dust under a ton of soil.
The funeral that we came for turned the corner.
They had been right to think the world of you,
Who conjured up for us, a hearse approaching,
An interest in life. Bravo. Bravo.
from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1990), ? Patricia Beer 1990, by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd. Recording from An Introduction by Hutchinson's Poetry Editor, by permission of the British Library Sound Archive and The Poetry Society.