The corpse rides frictionless bearings
To the fire, the body primped
Like a bride's bouquet— then ashes to ashes
And nothing to show but the melt-metal blob
Of the round that killed him
A quiet child, his school days
Colourless as Switzerland in winter, punctual in tick-box
Permutations of a life
A Cambridge Double First, though no one
Remembered he was there, now sly recruit
In Her Majesty’s Service in Moldova or Kazakhstan — wherever
The times turned, a blank space
In the photo, a shadow
Slipping by
His last assignment a bar
In the Old Brompton Road— found there, slumped
Against a cubicle in the Ladies, svelte in black
With matching heels and handbag, death
Impromptu, his brains blown
With his cover
At his flat, another life— shelves
Of Jazz albums A-Z
And a woman who said she was his wife
But disappeared the day after
His deaf sister collected the ashes— signing
Thanks to the staff as she settled the urn
Into a vintage portmanteau
The surveillance van, subtle
As switchblades up a sleeve, tracked her through data chaff
And alleyways— the man she met always just
Out of focus, grey
Against a static band of grey
Estill Pollock


If you have any thoughts on this poem, Estill Pollock would be pleased to hear them.