I BURIED a small bird today. No, that’s a lie. I lowered it gently onto the branches of a fir tree, hidden from predators, but free to rise if it could.

I had tried to resurrect it after it flew into my glass door with a doomed thud.

When I didn’t see it immediately on the ground before the door, I stood and walked outside.

And there it was on its side; its sweet little head bowed but not, as far as I could see, broken. Downy red feathers covered its neck marking it out as possibly a house Finch.

It did not flinch as I picked it up and laid the soft, fragile body in one hand as I gently massaged its chest, hope against hope. I even blew gently on its beak but its now sightless eyes flickered not.

And so, its softness feather-light against my palm, I placed it on the branches.

Two days ago, I stared down at the tiny brown figure of a harvest mouse in the middle of my dining room floor. I had just waved Robert in and turned to make coffee when César started an aggressive barking, staring in Robert’s direction.

It has taken a long time for the pair to become comfortable with one another. Robert is a cat man and César senses his distaste but still thrusts his long nose into his neck and Robert flaps his hands.

But it wasn’t Robert this time, it was a mouse that had possibly seen a route in through the open door as its home verges were attacked by the Commune’s ditch clearing machines.

It was dopey, unsure on its feet – I pray not as the result of the poison which, shamefully, is spread liberally around this house – and I was able to place it in a dustpan, using the brush to lightly hold it down.

I’d tipped it into a huge flower pot far from the door and there is no sign of it now.

As a child in Ireland I was a great burier of creatures with a solemn requiem mass intoned by my friends as some poor old crow found in the fields was given the last rites of Holy Mother Church.

My mother and her brothers had done the same a generation earlier, but with far more style than me. They burned coals in a tin can punched with holes to create a thurible and made an altar where the brother who became a monk led the whole of the requiem, served by my mother and her other brothers.

"We meant every word," she told me. "We were as solemn and as reverent as any priest and altar boy. Perhaps more so."

We weren’t as frightened and repulsed by death as we are now…certainly not in Catholic Ireland where, again as a child, I’d walk a while to see any body laid out and be welcomed to flick holy water on the corpse, say a prayer and head off again.

Even then it was the absence, the "goneness" of the person, that intrigued, and in some way, comforted me.

The body was a mere shell as we were taught. A vessel for the soul, the spirit. It was why, and I did it with my own mother, we opened a window to allow it to be free and said the rites to speed it on its way.

I will never forget looking at my own mother, through a torrent of tears, as that last breath came and then…she was gone. Just…gone. A tiny tear had trickled down her cheek as she took that breath but I knew it was for me, not her.

Perhaps because it’s Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) almost, or Hallowe’en, the day before, as we know it, that such thoughts crowd me; for I pass the pots of chrysanthemums that the French take to their graveyards at this time.

It is the time of the dead here, even now as La France Profonde undergoes enormous change. Here we still have family tombs, mausoleums, and the few crematoriums are kept for the Godless and the immigrants to gather the ashes and strew them on their own soil.

Every year, with no place to mourn in this land, I go to my village graveyard and look again at the fading photographs inlaid into the headstones.

For sure they are foreign faces in colouring and pose, but they’re the faces of those I now live amongst. Some are distressingly young with bows tied on black hair gripped over smiling, shy faces.

The flowers are mainly red and gold and here and there, a woman – usually a woman – kneels and weeds the rare plant that’s survived the last pulling up. But the men are there too, standing apart, staring down in thought.

Of course, I say a prayer for all of them in this peaceful setting where the only sound is the hum of a tractor in a distant field that they once worked.

To write this I have come away from the election argument in the House of Commons. It’s on in the background but for once I am thinking of different times. Eternal times.