Some shadows give a preview of the dark,
Tree leaves dancing on a kitchen floor,
An omen for the day the tree is dead.
We need no more proof that all is our imagination,
We are here; the tree is not, yet do we see it move.
I’m here for now. My shadow has its own life to continue.
We are in the abbey with no roof, yet
seconds before they disappear behind limestone pillars,
monks can be seen, disguised as seagulls,
chanting words can be heard, a murmur of Latin prayers,
mistaken for the roar of the North Sea.
When I make a photo of you looking over the harbour,
standing next to you is an astonished man
with a tonsure of a Benedict
who opens his mouth in the way of Munch’s Scream
but I only hear Kittiwakes yell and his wife calling him Pete.
I capture your smile outside the abbey. You face the tea room.
Behind you in the abbey continuing prayers,
chanting, movements of medieval life.
There is an attic in my house I never go
yet all is there: the past in suitcases and wood,
in plastic, covered up in dust; the present in chaotic piles
of things that stay but ought to go.
I won’t go there, not for a while, and
in an empty corner rests the future. Or not at rest
but haunts at night and cracks the floor.
It all is there but why, what for?
Sometimes I wonder if you ever think of me,
Remember afternoons we spent together.
Your silence goes so well with grieve and distance,
Are memories not lies in many ways?
I ought to integrate the people we both met there,
Or the ones who should have been perhaps,
To give the whole experience a twist, a change,
To make it more mundane and practical, like daily cups and saucers.
our parents had war as marker in time
we used family holidays as such,
and wars, those too, though not as much, would give
our memory more appropriate and
clear images of memorable days.
as reference of a book we had read;
a new cat coming, or an old one dead.
‘yes that was right after the heat wave there,
in belgium, in the ardennes, remember.’
‘the year you bought that hat was when we were
in england. that museum! the hand!’ laughter.
and when the war in bosnia kept us
awake we said bedtime rhymes to the boys.
that was then. nights without sleep. together.
when you got cancer, that whole year, we stayed
at home and I don’t recall of any
war but the fight that went on inside of
your body. time had stopped, was precious
and we filled it. laughter. sleepless nights. books.
and now all is marked as the time after
that day, the funeral, the first year so.
opening the box, the letters you once wrote
all that is left for me to remember
are the white gaps, now pale brown, in which
i make up your thoughts as i presume they were, but the edges
of the pages are darker, and crisp, and fall apart.
reading the past is drinking dust, choking
on every line that has gone, you
are most of all dead in your letters. your eyes
follow me around in the room
as i close the box
She found swallows which had crashed already dead
And dried flowers which would dust away;
She was breathing death before it was her time
(And then it didn’t come, and she became a hundred)
But there were days as well with too much life
With buttercupslight and lambs still happy for the slaughter,
There were days that might have been forever
In everything uniting she found power,
She read with all her strength as much as had been said,
From every word retrieving evidence
Of a reality and she was not alone.