on a sunny day I walked
breathing in the riverside shade
birdsong above me circled and centred me
and I missed you with a fierceness
now the fog has cleared
sky limpid, sun on green hils
oh how you are missed
I like foggy days
I can pretend you are here
how much you are missed
winds freshen, a first spitting
still you are not here
the you-shaped space within my arms
aches my chest with emptiness
soon? one day? it is all unknown
If I wrote you a postcard
I would write
‘wish you were here’
perhaps in capital letters.
WISH YOU WERE HERE
is a banal codification
used when people have nothing to say
but the situation demands a message.
This is known.
if I wrote you a postcard
‘wish you were here’
perhaps in capital letters
you would see through the context
strip away the convention
and see the message as it was truly meant.
I wish you were here.
I miss you like flame
I miss you like breathing
I miss you like ever before
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.
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.