How many ways are there to say,
to be gauche.
Today I will probably hit them all. Today,
all these years later, I am once again
angry with you.
Oh, I know, and you know,
that doesn’t change the love
or the grief,
that if anything it adds to
the personal guilt. But we need you.
But you’re still gone.
As completely and as foolishly as ever,
and it is just as when being without you was new and difficult to navigate,
a struggle to walk beyond.
See, I am still stumbling and tripping.
And you aren’t there to help catch…
any of us.

For Tommy* and those who loved him

Three days ago things mattered.
We wondered how many
crows gather on the church’s crenellation; how seldom
words contain the vowel formation oeu;
how gradually to stir uncooked risotto into the boiling water.
Who cares now?
By what audacity does decanted wine breathe,
or, linen covered pillows rest fluffily and unaffected?
We hear distance winds loudly agitate the water’s surface,
witness gray squirrels restlessly
dash through our gardens. Each of our feet plods
over and over one after the other
in the emptiness
of dusk.  But there seems no reason for it.
It simply continues to happen.

                                                                             *Thomas Barton 1977-2019

My Mother’s Last Gift

In hospital more than out
ordering fruit for breakfast
was my father’s habit, he didn’t
especially like fruit
but he ordered it to give to me.
Everyday I visited:
here’s your banana;
you should eat it dad;
No, I got it for you to eat;
so I did and we laughed
and the next day we argued about it again
until you
were in hospital the final time
and ordered fruit for breakfast.
I found it
still at the bottom of my purse
the day after you died.
Tears coursed
down my face outside the supermarket
where I’d stopped to buy food
for my father – your husband’s dinner.
It was just that, you know, it was
the last tangible you gave me
and it couldn’t be saved.


Dream State

Even the places here are turning
to dreams.
From the bus window, I point out landmarks:
I used to live on the second floor of a blue house down that street
I used to buy lunch from the hot buffet in that market and then skip dinner
I used to feed the feral cats in that park and was especially fond of a black and white kitten
but I don’t remember
the street address, the best entre, the kitten’s name.
Where I was and
who we were
a decade ago, two decades ago,  
half-a-century past
is nearly unconjurable,
as if it never,
as if you never
at all.