Girl you live

There she is

Living with all the pain

Which runs around her head and heart like a thing we can’t describe a thing she can’t explain because it is what she feels and what nobody knows

It is being aged 13 and losing your sister 17

A sister who lost her life for love

A sister who drowned on an August night

A mother who grieves inexplicably

A mother incapable of loving you as much as she misses her

A mother who lays and dances on a Friday with the urn of a daughter who was bloated and betrayed by the tide we’d all grown up to love

A sister with the laugh that lived on

Who held bumble bees in her palm beneath an apple tree that dropped only sour Braeburns but we found the sweetness

There she is and there you are living while she lays dead

Living and feeling guilty for every inch you take

There you are and here I am wishing you all the freedom and all the life

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LONG LAWNS

12 gardens sit hemmed by fence

on a free road

There is a school and church

trees that never achieved

the freedom of forest life

Birds lull and go as random cats lurk

the street lamp goes on and off

is never fixed

The orange gaud dims and livens

until daylight wrestles its role from it

Who do you call when a lamppost breaks?

End of tape

He had ideas lots of them

one’s about wood, what he could build

one’s about the next drive into Wales

one’s he never said but held

He had lots of them

And we never listened close enough

now we arch our ears back

to catch a single fray from the hem of his voice as it slips away

We take comfort in reaching back

to say this is what he would have said

to keep him here with us

Though there really is no telling

the words of a lost man

PREPARATIONS NEAR A WINDOWSILL

Before the leaves fall

 

The kitchen window boxes them

neighbours’ coming in, going out

strangers walking dogs

breeds we can’t tail between the fence,

on a street with a school, 

the six weeks bliss

Before the leaves fall from the trees across from us

I watch

Before the leaves fall from trees that aren’t ours

on the council’s land

but the trees, they’re ours

It is my eyes who see them most

before I knew what they were, the trees saw me first

Some days they were as far as I got just looking at them from inside the house

Now the leaves fall from the tree dad planted us

Before we knew he wouldn’t see it grow

wouldn’t see the apples it boast, rake the leaves, cut the grass

 

Before the leaves fall

they fall from our tree too

and each one reminds us of

everything we love, everything we fear

the cost of love, of beautiful things,

the cost is losing them

 

Before the leaves fall

prepare yourself

ABOVE THE PYRENEES

Ice crawls, relents; raves and melts,
applies itself, from where the cold air clamps

Old as Earth, young as us
watching on as we sear through

part of me wants to plummet free
into a place the white tips be

The engine is okay, but I still want to be free

How do I forgive myself for wanting to escape there is a grief in life that never leaves once you’ve crossed the border of wanting to live to not giving a fuck

LOST BEHIND

The candles were out

I couldn’t figure it out

what I’d done to be alone in the dark

on a table set for two but hosting one

The candles are out, I still don’t think I deserve to be by myself, like a racehorse running for the finish – euphoric – trained to do this, of course—it can’t remember unseating a jockey, it feels like victory because the horse doesn’t know the aim of the game: don’t pass the post alone.

Now, I’m scrolling back through thoughts and text, with wine and cheese and bread, accompaniments, a wholesome trinity for taking the mind to the affinity of taste buds and off memories and the presently, who scorch me like a rider’s whip if I go near ’em.

All churches smell like this, the smoke from blown-out candle wicks

the same smell that imprints itself to birthday wishes

If it was amber and warm, now it’s crusty and cold,

hard to see through the settled wax that folds my lids, as for being forgot I never did wish

This plain table becometh an altar, for breaking bread and heart, singular

Not worshiping but questioning; belief in man and love and all things nestled with

dreams of a life, the only purpose of a species desperate-to-love,

Why is everyone desperate to leave?

So much so, they don’t even arrive

FLAMES IN OBSERVATION

Bare with the burning fields,

help paw at wildfires

when a neighbour’s garden burns give a hand

or your arm will flare.

Anchor any drifting comfort with an upstanding easel

placed adjacent to the best lit window

and there; paint on with watercolour

blood and flames shining, reckless

might redden the portrait’s body

so open her up to the landscape

darkness starts in light

as the belligerence of nations might

while water waits to cool flouncing-fearless foreheads

behind the screens of a perfect life all hell sags

tar is adhesive, magma a welcome mat for the fleeting

titanic gates to inferno are at aperture

don’t hide eyes with blinking veils

for a fuse slithers silent

creeping up behind us, our ignorance