England, 1952

by: , June 25, 2022

in the day we wonder if the dead see us

but at night – the only true hours –

motherless and unstrung

we fall through the earth.

grief-laden, no longer one-dimensional,

but implicated in this

crushing burst of a moment

– this prickle on the skin –

called a human life.

to think of mother

as burnished planetary dust

mother amongst (m)others

all of whom carry

secret knowledge

as the hosts

to an arcane and discrete communication

with ghosts who

compel us to live it all out

between two deaths.

of the father of the father of the father

all the live long day it does go –

on buses, on trains, in offices

all of us

conjuring spectres,

conceiving the crack, through which

death enters life.

& all for men raised not by mother,

but matron

on the cricket fields

of England’s green and venal land,

though every mother knows that nostalgia

is a luxury few can afford &

that there is no going home

when home left you long ago.

is this, they ask,

why their sons live

so recklessly?

as though they were two

feet above the ground

& reckoning with

any means to slide

off the side of the earth?

it is only

a slight loss

of nerve, on a Sunday evening

in bristling, thickening silence

that gives the game away.

an ancient devastation resplendent

in younger form –

in fathers who make

of their daughters

their mothers,

at whose feet they finally lay down

the knot of their loneliness.

these rites, these sacraments

that help us trespass to a place

beyond all likelihood of the living



it is here:

it is here that my father prays,

school-boy like

in crisp, brushed cotton,

newly soaped…

never to be left alone in the dark.

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