Rapidly the crows started circling under clouds,
the winter dropped it’s hemlines,
wind chimes started hanging bones and teeth
where feathers were now too fickle.
I whisper to you from a distance
who whispers to me from just below.
You went missing from my dreams.
I couldn’t recognise their forms, their frenetic
and frenzy, their motion and melancholy,
I drew the world in shades of cry, you cut me out
and walked away. The black and white figures
floating like paper planes or glued on snowflakes,
origami flowers, ornamental place settings.
You were always somehow both the paving stones
beneath my shoes and the endlessness of sky
rolled above my head, a canopy sprinkled with stars
blown from your knuckles like snow.
This is not a morning song because the sun isn’t going to rise
on this land anymore, it’s seen enough of daylight
and there’s nothing you can do about it.
This is called growing up. This is called a learning curve.
A wake up call. A character building exercise
that requires some demolition before you begin.
No one can tell you if the darkness has come to stay
or if there is an exit route. Is there anybody there,
treading the waves in this night-time sea.
I hear your voice, I hear the stars coughing
quietly at the back of heaven, I hear the lampshades sigh,
the picture frames, the paperweights, the rain gutters.
Were you up there with the birds, like you hoped you
someday might be, although I hope this doesn’t mean
that you are dead. There’s a finality to being dead,
everyone just accepting the empty space that holds
your shape, the vacuum you once breathed in,
trying to move on and trying to forget the presence
of that loss, trying to forget it ever happened
or you ever happened- that you never died,
so never lived. Nothing else quite has that same
brutal symmetry that is maddeningly unequal
on one side. Dark and light. You can’t have one without
the other, yet light is filled with shadows,
and war and peace. War is a permanent state of
losing when you are supposed to be winning but
with so much losing all the time, you accept some
victory wherever you can, and then peace becomes
an arbitrary thing, a concept, a Utopia, a fairytale,
and war both real life and the stuff of fiction,
both their problem and on your doorstep.
It won’t be war or darkness that kills us.
It will be the forgetting of things, letting them
drift away and not being able to remember
them being with you still. Parts of yourself
start getting chiseled away, you are whittled
down to slimmer sets of variables, the situation
tightening around you, the doors closing, more
dead ends, more walled up corridors,
and this time, only one escape, no trap doors,
to loopholes. Hands you used to hold, you forget
who they ever belonged to. Words you used to
speak sounding now just like silence.
Wishes you used to make greying the glow
of wishing entirely until you are left with
just bones, an empty bottle, a melted candle
and a broken fountain. Those little games
you used to play with yourself, those superstitions
and fantasies, the make believe, the Peter Pan,
they become cumbersome and painfully false,
the skin they are in hardening to cold plastic.
You are already an overexposed and underexposed
and wrongly exposed photograph and you
haven’t even grown up that far yet, you still
have further the go, nobody to show you the way.
No wonder I got lost. And I have never been good
at orientation. So I found a place for my head
in the sand, and listened to the sound of the sea
in shells, the glimmer of fish, the sea monkeys
we released into the Wiltshire stream. People
want to fill the world with silly love songs
and goldfish and miniature castles. Four seconds,
flash and it’s gone, it’s a whole new world.
The sand got in my eyes, in that dust bowl of
papery scratchy anxiety, attrition against my skin,
dry and eating away at the edges of me,
until I start to collapse on myself. I should have
worked on making my skin thicker, or growing
a stronger backbone. I brace myself with wishbones
and wish that you were here, or I was anywhere
with a star to point me in one way and the moon
to change the tide, for planets to align and the poets
to smile on my fortune, write me a perfect sonnet.
Where are you now? With a dagger and a pack of
sandwiches and sardonic smile, flint stone eyes,
shadows on your heels. Where did the time go,
is it under my pillow, and if I slept right through it
how am I or was I ever supposed to know?
The clocks hold hands, the faces slip just slightly
out of position, the hammer on the nail one more time,
the forest fire that used to be contained in an ashtray?
I hear you, are you out there somewhere
swimming. Quiet now. Was it you I heard, or me?