north (sons and daughters)

we travelled south
east and west
each taking a bone
to plant and tend
we grew great forests
gave them names
like laughter, love
tundra, teal

there were swans and lakes
hills and streams
swallows flew
dreams took place

and then one summer
years from then
I caught my breath
inhaled again
and there before me
on the shore
a skiff, a whale boat
nothing more

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north (mother)

we found your bones
recumbent
in an abandoned skiff
bleached and burnished
wind weathered
but there on your finger
the ruby red ring
and around your ribs
intricately knotted
the matching necklace
identifying you
laying claim in this
wasteland grave boat
connecting us
in no uncertain terms

your sons and daughters
they built a fire
with driftwood and dried kelp
and using the stars for lanterns
sang your name until morning
when light shone
and you were at last
at peace

north (father)

we went north
where the whaling ships
once hunted – found them
rotting like beached leviathans
and on the shore
rocks and caribou antlers
great spikes seaweed draped
the blue grey background
inviting only to the brave
who would venture out
between the droplet islands
your wake watched
by black eyed monsters
and banshee winds in
howling caves

I never knew my father
his soul was cast adrift
when I was a child
but out there
and up here
I can still feel the roughness
of his hand
in mine
when I close my own
black eyes

my world is empty like a memory

I’ve been standing in your hallway
wearing only my bare soul
and the imprint of your fingers
on the letter that you sent to me
is like the debris from the songs
that you sang in the night to me

I’ve been sitting in your corner
in the chair that you kept free
when everything had escaped you
leaving holes in your sanity
where the reflection of your face
caught the racing lines of raindrops

I’ve been lying on your cold bed
now that everything is silenced
and the birds have stopped singing
from the branches of the tall tree
that scraped its fingers on your window
in a scene I keep repeating over and over

I’ve been walking from your eyes
staring at the sunlight that blinds me
that burns away my guilt and shame
all the leaves that are falling now
in the autumn of your passing
are collecting on the bare ground

where I have long been standing
holding flowers in my cold hands
not knowing what to say to you
as your voice slowly fades from me
I will never hear you quite so clearly
my world is empty like a memory

Daddy, I’m all grown up now

I am these bricks, potted flowers
cars, bikes, petrol mowers
my kids have bandaged needs
big trees and little weeds
favourite books upon the shelves
photos of our former selves
furniture in browns and reds
inherited from the family dead

I am this filing cabinet grey
of deeds, doubts, things to pay
carpet, laminate, papered walls
highs and lows, occasional falls
the view is mine, I’ve earned that too
it’s good enough to see me through
a bed, a wife, an attic space
lines now etched upon my face

I am these thoughts, written words
however crazy or absurd
a desk of pens and scattered notes
a lump inside this tired throat
the memory of when you were here
before you went and disappeared
I’m all grown up, nowhere to run
watching others have their fun

Summer Broke

Summer broke
With the snap of a twig
And a rattle of branches on our window

Witches claws you said
We snuggled back into an extra hour
Beneath the printed leaves on the duvet

And the sparrows on gutters
Rubbing beaks and telling tales
We later found one in the wood stove

Covered in ash as if cremated
Flew headlong into the kitchen window
I picked it up and held it to the air

Beak gaping open shut half dead
Eyelids open closing semi-conscious
It took a while before taking flight

These are moments to remember
Better than weddings and birthday parties
Your words not mine

I could never match your words
They came like sudden surprises
On the wind like birdsong and seasons

You kicked them about with childlike abandon
Autumn leaves lifted and scattered
Winter warmed behind scarves and mittens

We rode the storms together
Counted clouds and named their shapes
Ignoring what lay straight ahead

The cancer that came and took
Summer broken with the snap of a twig
And a rattle of branches on my window

Like witches claws you had said
The words now hollow echo in my head
Beneath this lonely extra hour duvet leaf

mindscapes

turning to find an empty space          where only your words once haunted the void between us and the warm stillness of your body comforted the night under resting angel wings folded over me    your voice silent now      your heartbeat just an echo in my ear     a remembrance of a kiss lost in the foggy ruins of memory       abandoned     out of reach       blown asunder      evaporated      bleached by the blinding light of morning as I hide from the siren screech that hurtles down through time and breaks the back of all that was once worth living for        but you are gone now and forgetting is harder than living as the sun burns through a paper sky                 a celluloid distraction crackling this humid mindscape              birth                  renewal finding our way in a new daylight of dreams.