Grieving in May | 3.

The last one, and perhaps the one that hurts the most; my younger sister and one of my best friends ever. Thank you for reading these poems; For me, May is time set aside for remembrance.

FRANCES

Here I will rest

My ashes falling

Into swirls of bog-brown water

In Spring perhaps

The river quiet

And the birds gone mad

My ghost will hover –

A shape in powdered white

Casting chills on my attendants

Willows hang their leaves

Across the rush of water

Such an airy, fragile green

And I think of you –

Your airy, fragile spirit

Gone out of turn before me

Our childhood memories

All lop-sided now

A pulse of anger yet –

Why aren’t you here!

You should be here!

The mystery of your absence

Plagues me

I kneel beside your grave

Bend low to sense your soul

Breathe in the smell of earth.

Grieving in May | 2

I wrote this poem for my mother some years before she died. She was 91 when she died and had had a long, happy life. This poem celebrates her light heart.

I remember the rustle

Of the red, exotic petticoat

The pick of a parcel

From America

Delight crackled in her hair

Exploded in a sudden flush

On her alabaster skin

The lighthouse sweep and beam

Of her glad eyes

Lit us all, haloed the room

Where we stood in a row

To admire

Long left that room, that house

The woman has gathered her years

Carefully, tucked them primly away

Scented and folded neatly

Facing the rest

With a lifted chin

A grin and a new hat

The glow of the red petticoat

About her still.

Grieving in May | 1.

May is a lovely month, with lilacs and hawthorn in bloom, and buttercups and other wild flowers blooming in abundance. But for me, it is a lonely month. Three of my immediate family are gone, father, mother and sister. I rarely remember the anniversaries of their deaths, but as two of their birthdays were in May, I think of them every day and try to have a quiet time to think and remember. This poem is for my father, the first to go.

Grey church humped in dusk

We huddle, linked

Wispy rain-curled fringes

Cold fingers

Avoid the avid glances

Of the neighbours

Here is the hearse

The priest in white, hand aloft

Accustomed to the rites

Calls him Gerard – but

His name was Jeremiah

Strange cousins

Twice and thrice removed

Clamour to shake hands

And kiss

Anticipating whiskey

He’d have hated this.

Oscar’s Grief

I hear the river

rushing to the sea

onwards always,

splashing over hidden rocks

and weirs,

foaming down the falls.

I tread the river path,

smell the warming earth

and grass. Wild flowers

compete with lilac’s

nodding heads and

sweetest hawthorn

These things which Oscar mourned,

shut away from light and air,

more precious in his mind

than freedom.

LAMENT from “Minus One”

I think I posted this poem before, but I am moved to repeat it. So much unhappiness and absolute misery in various parts of the world – nothing to do with Covid, just people mistreating other people. Why do we do this? And it has always been the way of humans.

My mouth is stretched –

A soundless wail of anguish

For the sorrows of the world

An eye into hell

In the corner of my room

Cry out your lamentations

Prostrate yourselves

And weep, and weep, and weep.

Cycles

I called you Peter

And you rocked the earth

My church is full of stones

I called you Fire

And you consumed me

My mouth is choked with ashes

I called you Truth

And handed you a sword

How often I am pierced

And pierced again

Old scars produce new blood

The letting leaves me

Desolate and grieving

The cycles of my life

Revolving endlessly.

SORROW – from “The Red Petticoat”

So now I know and

Must accept my fate

The sear of ice is

Burning in my breast

I have tried to quench it

With the gasping taste

Of whiskey

With new distractions

I have tried to warm

My blood

Suicide wouldn’t suit me

I fear the gaping hole

Of hell

But ah, to be old and

Mindless

My wretched mouth

All gums and grins

The ice dissolved at last

In drools and dribbles.

Cold Turkey

I wear your absence

Like a heavy coat

How pale the day

I never thought

That it would be so hard

To root you out

But I will not regret

The desolation

Of these desert days

The shock of separation

From where my spirit

Lay so easy

Life’s a bugger

But I will grab

it by the ears

And shake it till it screams

Ecstatic.

Jeremiah

Grey church humped in dusk

We huddle, linked

Wispy rain-curled fringes

Cold fingers

Avoid the avid glances

Of the neighbours

Here is the hearse

The priest in white, hand aloft

Accustomed to the rites

Calls him Gerard – but

His name was Jeremiah

Strange cousins

Twice and thrice removed

Clamour to shake hands

And kiss

Anticipating whiskey

He’d have hated this.