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Last week he promised he’d come over and visit with his wife, that things were better as he’d taken a walk and sat in the garden that morning. I didn’t believe him but smiled and in my way said I’d be expecting them. Now his coffin barely weighs on my shoulder blade, his wife thin and sickly, sits at the edge of the shallow hole that will be his grave.

We are marching him to rest. It’s simple and sad things like this that need not be rehearsed, we are born to death and bred to carry its weight. I can’t help but think how different he looked as he slowly approached his end: a reversal of fire in his eyes, a back-burning – as though he was being reclaimed, as though whatever he thought he had was not his.

This nearly empty casket of skin and bones and a drowned shadow beneath its sealed lid. I stumble as we walk and hear his dead body move, his bones knock against the wood. Not the knocking to enter, not the knocking for an answer – but another way to say goodbye. I take that sound with me as I drive home smelling of smoke, covered in dust, with his frail and silent wife.