You smiled quietly when we gave you a card, cleared your throat and said thanks. We found them all you know, when we were clearing the loft, all in date order (you’d pencilled the date on each envelope), held together with a rubber band, wrapped in plastic and sellotaped down. I’m not sure why we all wrote this one.
His plate was empty again but he did not remember eating anything. He was not hungry though so he must have eaten. Perhaps he had fallen asleep afterwards. He rubbed his eyes. His plate was empty again but he did not remember eating anything.
I held ice tight in my hand
water trickled from my fist
to my forehead
Then my hand was empty
but my fist remained
blood frozen in its veins
I rubbed knuckles on my eyes
my heart drum noised
my temples throbbed
All memories swirled in snow
all memories swirled
we broke bread together
we broke the ground
burned dried branches
and spread the ashes on the broken ground
many years later
when neither you nor I
the new trees grew
and houses became homes
we do not need
to be remembered
the buds on the trees
and the hands on the door handle
You kept me in your memory
and I felt I could not leave
I sat still or lay and slept
while you thought of me
But I had changed and have done again
If you could see or taste me now
you would understand I hope
Flecks of river ice thicken
waves crest and break before the shore
memories come and go
I dreamt of Richard and a malfunctioning autocorrect on his iPad and woke up with my face streaked with tears of laughter. Then, of course, I realised Richard was not here any more and the tears began again.
Though you are not here
the breeze which once you breathed
ruffles my hair
and stirs my blood
I love you, K. His last words before the plane takes off. Every time. And every time he starts the car. He could not remember when he had started saying it. Perhaps after that time in north Africa when the taxi they had hired for the day played a prayer when the key was turned.
I love you, K. He does not know why, either. It is not as if it cleanses his sins, and he does not believe in sins or prayers in any case.
I love you, K. He says it under his breath so nobody knows, not even K sitting beside him. But of course he is mostly alone when he drives and does not know anyone near him when he flies.
I love you, K. Perhaps he wants it to be the last words to pass his lips if something happens. His heart and his lips would be honest and true. And perhaps, if something does happen, K will somehow know, the words will hang in the air or the ether.
I love you, K. Perhaps they will.
The story would come later, when the harp has faded and the fingers stilled.
The men sit on the granite slab, facing the water.
The boat will come soon.
Will you go?
It will be a day coming and the winds may move. In the meantime they may move.
No. No, not this time.
The dog crouches, ears pricked, watching for rabbits, hearing the catch in the men’s soft voices.
I’ll not go.
The boat will be here soon.
Time passes, touching even the granite. Split in three pieces it stands, each man’s name carved deep in the redness.
Who were they, do you think?
When the boat came they went, two to the mountains and one to the sea. And then they were lost to the men or to the waves. And nobody tells their story no more.
Wind blows, spattering foam. Hand touches shoulder.
Are you crying?
No. No, I’m not crying.