HS2: Sixty Thousand Exhumed at St James Gardens, Euston

It startles the skin when people dare to ask it,
the timeless binary that binds us: rot or burn?
To settle on the mantel as dust in the urn,
or rattle to the soil, supine in the casket?

Though it’s deemed irrelevant whether these approve
of being irreverently plucked from their plot,
it’s clear most people who choose burial do not
do so supposing that in the future they’ll move,

in fact that’s more or less the whole crux of the deal:
that their bag of bones will rest somewhere permanent
after their good bits have floated to the firmament.
Undisturbed in rest, should the rest be an ordeal.

It’s a plan that’s pitched as untouchably certain—
it has to be as certain as the end itself
to keep the illusion of control in good health.
Frills of velvet stitched on to the final curtain

to say, when the end comes, if all’s come to nothing,
then all of us shall still be granted one last stand;
one final plush bed, sturdy stead, and claim to land—
a hefty slab of stone saying something loving.

It eases the struggle to know that, might we fail,
we’ll be remembered (preserved, at least) in some way,
unless our plots, in centuries to come, fall prey
to the blind navigators of the high speed rail.


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