I dont often write poetry, but I wrote this last year, for Alec & Joyce. xx
We know you’re here. We just have to find you.
We blithely rush into your hollow house, cat guarded and silent
A crumbling jumble of words tumbling loosely from our lips
Trying to fill the space with conversation.
We skirt nervously around the elephant in the room.
Each of us confronted at every turn with its sudden profile,
Its baleful eye regards us from a slipper or a crossword puzzle.
We tread carefully, in that jungle of emotion and tangled times,
Picking our way through knitting patterns, postcards, shopping lists.
You are here somewhere, among the slide carousels and commemorative china,
We must dig more, search longer.
Your faces smile down from a dozen photographs, are we getting warm yet? Colder? Colder.
You smile still; stiffly stood at weddings,
Holding children, dogs, birthday cakes.
The photographs look like you, but they are not you.
They don’t smell like you. They don’t bestow a wheezy chuckle,
Don’t squeeze tight our hands, nor fill our empty hearts.
We open each box and drawer, search each cupboard on bended knee,
Hoping every single time we’ll find you.
Nestled between some Port and a pack of cards, behind a mug of pencils,
And we will exclaim in surprise and laugh with delight
And gingerly lift you from that fusty dusty hidey hole
And unfurl your gentle limbs
And place you in that massive chair.
Maybe in this jar, or that tobacco tin.
You must be here, in this house, in these things all around us.
Every creak of the stair seems to sound your return
We are clumsy in this strange empty place.
Without you it’s hard to know what shape to be.
Without you we have to talk to each other.
Maybe there, in the stories and in-jokes, in the oft repeated nothings,
Maybe there we’ll find you.