Many years ago
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.
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
Some or many years ago of course my mum was there. Nine months earlier and the man they called my father had been too. Now both are disappeared, one too soon before the other, and the counting of the years wears thin.
The best thing remain the candles – if you forget the jokes about the fire risk and the firemen and now the fire service. Each candle stands for a memory, a year that has passed or a friend, and calmly shines its light into the future. The more candles on the cake, the brighter the light they cast, the better they show us what is to come.
Though, through fear, we may not want to know. So we blow out the candles and pinch out the stubs and blow away the memories and shade out the light. The future is arriving fast enough; I do not want to see it.
Our parents are the weight in the keel of our life, slowing us down we shout, keeping you steady they say. When they are gone we can swerve, we skim faster on the tips of the waves; we can tilt our masts and fall. We hope they have left lifeboats.