names of the dead
like the pain of loss is yours alone;
cataloguing, quantifying, dwelling,
rooting for excuses
to imprison them inside your head.
Memory upgrades acquaintances to friends,
distant kin met once in your thumb-sucking days –
when you spun away in disdain –
become uncles that you always loved.
Haven’t you lost enough?
Don’t you suffer enough?
It smacks of greed for sick fame;
a wish to obtain the world’s most comprehensive
collection of grief,
as if you have a grand ambition
to be listed in the Guinness book of records,
or to become a respected expert
in your field of graves
where flowers wither
while you sift sand
in the desert of self-pity.
Clinging to the dead brings misery;
care for the living instead.
©Jane Paterson Basil