Lorna Dowell

Afterwards

We could fill the gap with conversation
the way we would if you had gone out, or
not yet got back from where you were going.

We’d talked without your being there before
but never without your being, never
knowing you weren’t coming back or going

to reappear, to walk through the door holding
arms out for a hug and beaming at us
because we were there, because we had come

to see you. It was not until after
we’d gone that the sense of your absence
opened up – a swallow hole in the heart.

We came away knowing this emptiness,
your missingness – all we have now of you –
is your presence.

Following a local laureateship in 2001-2004,
Lorna Dowell has worked extensively on
poetry and community writing projects in
education and healthcare settings. She has
had both prose and poetry published in a
variety of magazines, including Ambit, Magma,
The Frogmore Papers and The Interpreter’s
House, as well as in anthologies. Her pamphlet
Crossing the Ellipsis (Happenstance) was
published in 2011.