space

Give me space you said
and I
misunderstanding
opened my hands
above my head
so the distant jewels
of the farthest white stars
shone between my fingers.

You know they are already dead
you said
and I said yes
I know.

Three memories for Father’s Day

On Saturday mornings while mum was cleaning we walked along the canal, my hand holding on to one of his fingers. On the way back from the shops he would swing me up onto his shoulders so he could carry bags in each hand. Now I realise how I must have tugged on his hair but he was a quiet man.

Be sensible, son. I know you will be. I was eighteen and leaving home and did not know what sensible meant. Years later I began to understand and he did not judge. Stay as long as you need, son. This is your home. Stay as long as you want. A quiet man.

In the supermarket he gripped the trolley and his legs would not move. As we carried him to the car, he closed his eyes so others would not see his embarrassment. He was silent in the car and until he was safely in his chair in his new home. Thank you, son, he said and I started to tell him thank you for everything but he raised a hand. He was a quiet man.

For Sid, 1915-2008

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hope
hope
hope and expectation

a swift heart-clutching dread
please
it’s the hope
a longlasting eye-closing dread
fear of the future
close to hope for the worst

and then deliverance
the stab and realisation

as the hope swirls away
acceptance
and almost enjoyment

it is not a fault

it is not a fault
in itself
to see angels in your yard
or to chase them away
by flapping your arms
and making barking noises
like the yellow-brown mongrel from three doors down

not in itself

you sit down on the kerb
head in hands
elbows on knees
breathing a challenge
now the angels are gone

you know they will be back though
rustling and humming in the corner of the yard
when the blue lights stop spinning
and those lovely young men
in their spearmint green kit
finish drinking their tea

you sit down
in the house now
and the silence is broken
only by the yellow-brown mongrel
and a forethought of humming
there’s plenty more biscuits
you say to yourself