(My) mum and (your) dad

Many years ago
today
she arrived crying in the world.
Later I remember she would smile.

Some years more
but still today
and many miles away from her
his parents felt their world complete.
They smiled.

Never knowing
but through the years
they lit the candles together
laughing in a distant unison.

He did not know
and nor did she
and now she is not here
and he does not remember.

For years now
since she left
the celebrations have been singular
but heartfelt
by all.

It would be inaccurate to say

It would be inaccurate to say
I remember chalk springs
and water meadows.
Memory implies they no longer live inside me,
shaping my future,
the clarity of the water chilling my bones.
I can never forget them
or the colour of the foliage
or the too-soon long walk home.

in response to a tweet from @londonlitlab 15/07/21

He sat in the sun

He sat in the sun on a bench in the park, his jacket too heavy. ‘May I?’ said the woman who appeared out of nowhere, pointing at the other end of the bench. ‘Aye, of course,’ he almost said but instead grunted and nodded and looked away. It’s not much of a story to tell, the woman may have thought, unless I invent that he is famous or an actor or identical to that man who had done that terrible thing when she was only a child. Her parents had turned the newspaper over but she had found and read the article, following the words with her finger. The memory had stayed with her like a fishhook through the lip. She sat and did not look at the man, who did not look at her.

He did not answer when she first spoke to him, nor later when she stood up and left. All he could think of was his daughter.

I found an old photo

I found an old photo
from the days when photos were paper
I saw me
not well-focussed
and a little too distant
and you
you must have been behind the camera
invisible

I have changed since then
believe me
I have

I was thinner then
and darker
and felt the world less

and now I find myself
turning over the picture
and my memories
to find where you have gone

anniversary

We have been together for longer than we haven’t.

Do you remember that day, that beer in the village,

that evening, that night?

Do you remember? I do.

And yes, life has changed,

life has definitely changed us,

life has of course green splintered and mended,

yes to all of those things, yes of course.

But still when I see you,

my eyes open or closed tight,

still when I see you I remember that evening,

the evening when the shadows were gone.