This will be the mother

This will be the mother of all days.
The day when all the ways I miss you
will be revealed. And all the devils
in the detail, and all the stories I still write
for you, tall tales of shameless derring do,
of fisher folk on the tempested seas,
all the tiny hints I write
for you to seize on,
knowing you will never read them
or even know they are there.
Oh, this will be the mother of all days.

Thank you for coming. Goodbye

I heard how your name was properly pronounced
and practised it all the way to your home.
But by the time I got there it was gone from my tongue, forgotten.

And I had to get it right, get everything right.
Because if I got everything right
and everything else turned out alright, who knows?
We could have had it better.

But I blurted out your name and your parents
– or your children –
couldn’t help it and laughed.

But that’s a girl’s name
– or a man’s name – they said
and hid their laughter behind their hands
but not from their eyes.

So that was the last time I saw you until today.
Thank you for coming.
My life has been good
and now is complete.
Thank you for coming. Goodbye.

Her name would have been Stefka

My daughter’s name would have been Stefka. Stephanie or Stefania – we couldn’t agree – Francesca. Stefka. The k seemed pleasingly central European, when that was different and exotic. She would have been thirty today. Her name would have been Stefka.

Thirty. Me perhaps a grandad or maybe not – I would have been sure to say it did not matter either way, so long as she was happy. Now, knowing what I know now, I do not know what would have been best.

The sun was shining low on the horizon, just like a storybook sun. A twinge (is that the word?), then another. Quick! We need to go now! We piled into the car, the bag we had packed on the back seat, only twenty minutes to the hospital, I had measured it, we drove grinning and groaning and twinging. The sun shone low. Fifteen minutes later I drove across the junction.

Another two weeks later I woke up and Stefka and her mum were gone. As I learnt to walk again I leaned on the walker as I would lean on a pram and cried.

Thirty years and of course I still miss them, the one I had loved since I met her and the one I had loved since before she existed. Of course I do. People in this sort of story always do. But this is not a story. This is real life.

And that’s the thing about real life. There is no point to some stories. No point to the love, the creation, to the happiness and destruction.

So why am I telling you this? Why, today of all days? Because I can and I have to, even though there is no point. No point to the anger, the grief and denial.No point to it at all. But I can and I must, so I do.


If our life together is a football match

If our life together is a football match,
I demand time added on to the added-on time
An instant replay – the ball’s not over the line!
A last-minute penalty save in the last-minute ward
A refusal to let you have an early bath, early doors
I’ll stand in the wall as the number 10 kicks
I’ll go in knee-high on all of illness’s tricks
I’ll stop it however, however I can
I won’t let you be part of someone else’s tactical plan.

But it’s not and it’s over, just as they thought
You flew down the wing but your heels have been caught
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know it drives you to distraction
but the only way I can cope
is to think of you leaving me
as some terrible
three o’clock Saturday
footballing action.