Preventative Elegy
By Sophie Hannah (b. 1971)

There will not be a burial,
There will not be a wake.
No ashes will be sprinkled
Over the stream or lake.
There won’t be a cremation,
A coffin or a shroud.
No hearse will park along the road –
Your death is not allowed.

There will not be a graveyard,
There’ll be no marble stone
Bearing a carved endearment.
No flesh will shrink to bone
And in the town that loves you
There’ll be no sobbing crowd.
No one inherits anything –
Your death is not allowed.

No grief will need to be disguised
As just a bit upset.
No one will wonder whether to
Remember or forget
Or which would cause the greater pain,
And whether we laughed or rowed
Last time will be irrelevant –
Your death is not allowed.

Others will die instead of you.
A fixed amount must die
(If there are quotas with these things)
And strangers’ wives will cry
But I will have no need to say
I loved you and was proud
To be what I have been to you –
Your death is not allowed.

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