Why rot expensively, be a burden?
My beloved—he’d really thought it through.
Made it the focus of his end of life.
Why not give his family cause to party?
Celebrate the manner of his passing
on the anniversary of his death.
His last voyage a page in family history.
No euphemisms here. Do as the ancients
The Zarathrustrans with their Dakhmas
those poles with wicker baskets on the top
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes
on Ilkley Moor they gave the worms a feast
We've always done it.
We’ve all seen the films.
Heartrending shots of famished polar bears. Walrus struggling
to find a patch of ice to safely plant their pups.
These days they run convoys
a last drink here, roast cod or king crab there.
The ultimate in altruism.
Wrap up warm. It’s cold up here—so far north.
But no Kevlar please or man-made fleece,
Just good, old-fashioned wool. And alcohol.
His living will in black and white.
No God's Waiting Room for him
No hushed voices as he breathes his last.
And now of course, the story’s old, and
no one these days thinks it odd
to book their trip when their time is near
go to Svalbard with their near and dear,
be eaten by a starving polar bear.
© Rosie Barrett
Polar bear ‘invasion’: how climate change is making human-wildlife conflicts worse
Rosie Barrett has lived in South Devon for over 30 years and cherishes family and watery views. She’s been published in anthologies and magazines. She’s working on her first collection.