The holes were dug on a hill,
three of them.
It was dusty work.

The smallest one, low and to the left,
was filled in.
The middle one was the largest.

It was oval like an open mouth
and big enough to take three bodies
lying down.

In the last, higher up and to the right,
we put the boots.

We collected them,
long boots,
heeled boots, dusty
work boots, we laid them
down on their sides.

I said, ‘I’ll put mine in!’
But it was a stupid idea.
We had enough.

We covered the bottom of the hole
with them.

By the time we finished
the stars were out.

The big hole gaped in
the starlight, hollow.

Dust rose from our

What about a vacuum cleaner?’
I thought.

Inside, the window looked out
on the neighbour.

It was Christmas.
I had a glass of wine,
listening to the laughing and
shouting, and a piece of the rim
broke off in my mouth.

I changed the side of the glass
I was drinking from.
Another piece broke off.

I turned the glass again.
I knew that it wasn’t a solution.

Sooner or later I was
going to have to get a new glass.

More and smaller pieces of the glass
and came away.

It was becoming dangerous to drink from.
The points were too sharp to put my lips
against, even gently, taking little sips.

Finally, a crack
ran down the glass
length-ways, to the stem,

and it broke into two halves,
wetting my hands with wine
that then splattered on the floor.
Oh,’ I said.

Now I had no choice.
I gathered up
all the pieces.

I rinsed them in the sink.
I went and got the
vacuum cleaner.

About eight or nine people
were sitting in armchairs
around the outside of the room.

They sat conversing over their armrests,
on some of which sat children,
so the old people
had to talk behind their backs.

More children were playing
quietly on the floor.

Small toys
rolled into the corners.
I picked them out by hand before

chasing the dust mice around the floor.
We couldn’t decide which video to watch,
although I’d only brought a choice of two

and with the chairs in this arrangement
someone was going to have to miss out.

I held up one.
No!’ They shouted.

I held up the other.
Yes!’ They all agreed.

I put on the film
but did the talking stop?
Of course it didn’t.

To the ongoing conversations
behind the children’s backs
were added comments on
and questions about the film.

They were old friends
and family.

I looked from face to face.
We hadn’t been all together like this
for years,

and for some it would be the last time
we would see each other.

I let it go,
Pausing the film with the remote.
Nobody noticed.