After the administration was complete –
the registering, the funeral bill -
they handed me a small metal container.
This, they told me,
in their clinical-yet-tender way,
was a Grief Bucket, Standard Issue.
They said I might find it useful from now on,
and please could I sign to confirm I understood.
At home, I placed the bucket in the middle
of the living room floor,
carefully removed its cellophane wrap
and stared at it for days.
Sometime later, I found myself on the sofa,
head between my knees,
and the bucket proved useful for catching drops;
catching the sad plop of grief as it lived up to its name.
Friends showed mixed reactions.
Some had no time for buckets,
were too concerned with their unfair jobs and sore feet
to acknowledge this recently acquired possession.
Even in its shiny newness.
Even in its glare-in-the-winter-sun-ness.
Some were more attentive. One reached
into a kitchen cupboard, brought her bucket -
careworn and rusting - down and set it next to mine.
She filled them both to the brim with tea,
told me to take all the time I needed.
Once, when I was caught off guard,
didn’t scramble for mine in time,
my loved ones heard the siren, grabbed
their own regulation buckets from pegs
and swooped in, surrounded me.
They didn’t think twice about sitting for hours,
bailing and bailing and bailing.
Claire Walker's poetry has been published widely. She has two pamphlets published by V. Press - The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile (2015), and Somewhere Between Rose and Black (2017), which was shortlisted for Best Poetry Pamphlet at the 2018 Saboteur Awards. Her third pamphlet, Collision, was published in September 2019 from Against the Grain Press. She is Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine.