fragments

there are things i remember about you

like that kiss on new year’s eve, your cheek
all unexpected softness.
i looked properly on new year’s day,
at downy fuzz on that cheek where
i’d kissed you right back.

like that photograph sellotaped to your bedroom wall,
you and your sister and your niece,
out of focus together.

afterwards your sister peeled it off and took it
away with her to keep
with a lipstick i knew you’d never worn.

later  i decorated your room.
sugar soap to wash the walls,
to shift old blood i wore rubber gloves.

and like that time in the ambulance, that
time you were dead.
then you weren’t.
and then you were really, of course.

how blue your lips were.
counting pebbles

there’s safety in numbers.

very special pebbles
(eighty-eight pebbles!)
carried in a bucket
from the beach.
ever so special pebbles,
shiny on the shingle,
choosing only the best ones.

but the grown-ups don’t like
the pebbles
and sand
and what is this mess?
(so pretty!) on the persian carpet.

the child, dull now,
like the eighty-eight pebbles,
takes them outside,
looks up, and
 
counts the stars.
The Hare

I knew that you had
seen it too.
Sitting in silence,
wanting to share
our individual wonder,
release our excited child
and meet in common joy.
But I saw it
smudged, and
filtered through
desperate tears and
sniffed indifference;
you saw it,
but didn’t, focussed angry
and only inwards,
blind to the outside
images flickering through
the windscreen, onto your retinas.
Chancing its luck,
now! it lolloped
across the road,
all twitching energy
and irresistible life.
Maybe you saw it only
later, as a ghost,
later when you touched
my knee, and
then my hand
as I changed gear,
letting me know
you were back.

You turned on the radio, and
I drove on,
elated.
Trophies

One for sorrow
Two for joy.
Hundreds he has
snagged, as broken
and caged the magpie
calls like wings to his
tower, to flap,
then tangle and,
at the last,
snap in the wires.
So, bone-
dried and tied
in such neat bundles,
twig legs and brittle
claws, like kindling
to light some unkind hearth,
they now hang
on the door, right there,
to bless your wary step
over the threshold, or
trouble your dreams
of flight.
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