DREAMS OF DEATH AND SOCRATES Shortlisted in Wolverhampton Literature Festival Poetry Competition 2020 & included in festival poetry anthology
Dreams of Death and Socrates
After the funeral we washed dishes in silence,
but in my head we talked, and I told you
I’d stopped believing in Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
You wanted to know when, exactly, so I said: gradually.
This drew your mouth-down smile and tipped your head,
and when you said: don’t you feel a great sense of loss?
I didn’t tell you: no, I feel a great rock has been lifted from me,
because even in my day-dream, I knew you’d be angry and say:
what about us? Is this is it? And after death, nothing? Forever?
I could have told you about Socrates, but you’d have laughed:
Socrates? Now you’re just trying to be clever.
I could have told you why Socrates wasn’t afraid to die;
that for him death was either a single night of dreamless sleep,
or else a chance to walk and talk with the dead,
but if the latter were true, I know you’d expect me to look for you,
and in un-minuted time I might, but first I’d take the hand of Socrates
who’d lead me through shades to Achilles, and together we three
would walk on sand cool beneath some black ship’s lee,
and talk until Thetis stepped to land, trailing strands of wine-dark sea.