Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into an artifice of eternity.

Friday, November 7, 2014

In Memoriam


~ For Mother ~

 i

In the end you became
Your father when death
Had tripped him into sleep,
And when you stumbled
We all stumbled closer
To your ends, and ours –
Your hands were our hands,
And your bones settling back
To earth were our bones
As we carry them further
Down the road you went,
Further and closer, father,
Until we meet again.

ii

We never wanted you to go,
So we held the frayed thread
You clung to over the edge,
For five days we watched it
Strain against your freight,
And for five days you fought
To haul yourself back …
Now we struggle to fill
The spaces you displaced –
More presence in your absence
And more music in silence
Than all the living noise
That fills a heart with home.

iii

Everything you left behind
Still wears you, father,
But everything is nothing
Without you –
We sift sadly through
Your things but find in them
What only lamentation brings –
A spade against the wall,
A cap or old sandals
All things shorn
Empty and forlorn –
Even your beloved trees
Followed you into absence.

iv

But how could you of all men die,
You who were so indelible
And so crucial, a different dad
For each of us, though one again  
When the appointed time arrived?
Did we really board your passage,
Father, or did it arrive home
With each of us on board?
All the times we spoke of it
And the way we spoke of it,
The way the fear informed
Our words – we never knew
What had already been decided.

v

There was nothing we could do,
And though your mind was gone
You were not gone –
Though you’d vanished around
The corners of every absence
You still met life midway
As if not undersea or beyond
The call of all that tolled
You back from sleep –
When the church bell rang,
Your face went grey
And then your vital clock
Pulsed that one last time –

vi

I think of you lying there
Exactly as we last saw you
Before they closed the lid,
Your eyes and mouth glued shut,
The fingers intertwined,
And the loose suit bunched –
When we put you under
You were a long way down,
With the tight earth round
And darkness closing in.
Are you really there now, father,
Still under the wet clay,
You once dug to nowhere?
 

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