The Good Funeral Guide Blog

On Going by Owen Sheers

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

It’s been a slow news day here at the GFG luxury penthouse suite in Thanatology Towers. So here’s a very good poem by Owen Sheers. If you like it, buy the collection. It’s called Skirrid Hill and it’s published by seren.

On Going

i. m. Jean Sheers

There were instruments, as there always are,

To measure, record and monitor,

windows into the soul’s temperature.

But you were disconnected from these.

and lay instead an ancient child,

fragile on your side,

your breath working at the skin of your cheek

like a blustery wind at a blind.

There was only one measurement

I needed anyway, which you gave,

triggered by the connection of my kiss

against your paper temple

and registered in the flicker of your open eyes,

in their half-second of recorded understanding

before they disengaged and you slipped back

into the sleep of their slow-closing.

11 comments on “On Going by Owen Sheers

  1. Tom Hutton

    Thursday 2nd March 2017 at 1:35 pm

    The subject of the poem is an elderly person who is dying. the dissconnection from the machines is in my opinion not a literal disconnection. Perhaps the Poet is saying, these ‘instruments’ are not you, they do not define you and i won’t remember them as being part of you. the only ‘measurement’ he is interested in is the flicker of an eye, a human reaction. as short as it was, it was enough.
    they lay ‘as an ancient child’, shows the fragility of life along with the circle of life. we are at our most fragile as an infant and of old age. the metaphorical use of ‘paper temple’ also indicates the fragility of the subject. easy to tear, thin.

  2. Ellie

    Friday 28th September 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Jean Sheers was Owen’s grandmother.

  3. Thursday 9th February 2012 at 4:46 pm

    thanks for this Charles, I have been asked to read this at a ceremony, tricky reading!!

  4. Monday 18th October 2010 at 11:05 am

    A pleasure, Amber.

  5. Amber thomas

    Saturday 16th October 2010 at 6:41 pm

    thankyou charles, this was very helpful 🙂

  6. Friday 15th October 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Hello, Amber. The poem is i. m. – in memoriam. It is in memory of Jean Sheers – the poet’s mother, perhaps. She has been disconnected from her monitoring machines and is lying in a foetal position, dying. Even though she is very close to death, she nevertheless recognises the poet, albeit it only momentarily. This is important to him. It is a sad poem, of course, and very stark, yet full of love and sadness and honesty.

    I hope this helps.

    • Sallie Mogford

      Tuesday 28th August 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Jean Sheers is not Owen’s Mother. She was very much alive when I saw her recently at the premier of Resistance.

      • Wednesday 29th August 2012 at 7:53 am

        Oh, Sallie, I have put my foot in it. Thank you for this good news. May she enjoy many more years. Thank you very much for correcting a sloppy error. I must now find out who the subject of the poem is.

  7. Amber Thomas

    Friday 15th October 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Can someone give me a brief explination please?

  8. Amber Thomas

    Friday 15th October 2010 at 1:03 pm

    dont really understand the poem…

  9. Thursday 1st July 2010 at 1:02 pm

    made me cry

Leave a Comment