Learning to Remember
You see, four years ago, I lost my husband.
At first, I swore I would die from grief.
Every thought was a suffocation.
Relentless, always: the empty blue sky of day;
the starless, clouded sky of night;
both tapering up to a future of sorrow,
with hope clumped up in the darkness, to weep.
For months, I blocked all memories out.
Those images of his face, rising up
out of the quotidian, I locked away
in the secretest closets of the mind.
But, as time passed – and the years pass
swiftly now – things grew easier.
As time passed, I learnt to think of him
again, to love the thought of him again.
Comforting, the slanting smile, the weathered
hands rooting amongst the geraniums
on a hot summer’s day. The memory, at least,
And the places we visited, too,
to return is a kindness, to lumber over
the fences of years to fish for something valuable,
an image of him: standing in the long grass
by the sea, the wind blowing the grass,
the wind blowing his hair and the smell
of the sea in my nostrils, our nostrils.
When I first returned to that favourite beach
where we’d listened to the ocean’s sonorous hymns,
I lay a towel out at our usual spot and stood,
looking over the landscape of our past.
The sea sung the same songs. The wind
blew through my hair. The smell of the sea.
The words ‘I love you’, of someone nameless,
were written in the sand.
Rain in St James’ Park
Couples walk slowly beneath umbrellas,
looking up, now and then, to watch the leaves
They droop low under the weight,
and then spring up, splashing their fresh handfuls
of droplets to the ground. Squirrels run up trees,
An old man stoops over a crowd of geraniums,
silvery-wet below the old chestnuts.
He breathes in deep, and smiles. Rain-drops
run down his cheeks like tears. A blackbird,
somewhere, begins to sing.