It went and snowed this year,
turning the garden to sugar.
We took photos of it,
not needing to remind ourselves
it could be twenty years (or more)
before this happens again.
The last time it snowed
I was still sixteen, not noticed
by any of the boys.
I wrapped a lilac scarf
around my throat, pulled
blood-red gloves from the drawer,
picked out a bottle-green coat.
Everything in the street
looked black and white. The silence
was huge. White beards hung
from car aerials, lamp-posts, the post-box.
Home was just around the corner,
but it would take me nearly twenty years
to get there,
my husband waving me in,
the slippery hush of snow
behind me, the unknown boys still
passing by at the end
of the road, their purple shadows
fluttering behind crimson cigarette ends,
the trees blue, the night yellow,
our house warming in the dusk
as, one by one, we turn out the lights.
It’s too big for a poem,
the dead boy who was
a dead ringer of his father,
the kind-and-clever & good-looking-too
sort of lad every mother would give
her right arm for.
This poem can’t begin
to do him justice.
It frays at the edges
and although I’ve tried to patch
and sew it, it somehow unravels.
That’s the way it is with words –
they don’t contain anything
like the smoke and fire
of life. They sit on the page
as mosquitoes do
when they’re done sucking blood.
You’re left with a lump and an itch.
It’s all over, now.
This won’t bring him back
to life. The coffin rolled
through a summer afternoon
and fairly froze our hearts.
You can’t beat that.
You can’t beat this:
leaves reversing themselves
back on to the trees,
the boy growing smaller
so that his clothes slip off him
with unbearable ease and he plunges,
naked, into his mother’s arms,
the light closing inside his eyes
like a cat’s, his whiskerless body
preparing itself for a sleep
that still won’t fit, not here, not there,
not anywhere it can be found.
The Moon Watch
When you bought me the watch
I could see everything:
the time, the date, the moon
in its different phases.
That was then. Things are different,
now. Oh yes, I can still tell the time,
but the date has become
a myopic cycle of mystery
and the moon itself is nothing more
than a painted, shrunken orange
with handy cloud-cover
showing the progression of the weeks.
I still have the watch
and I still see everything:
the way time no longer holds you
to me, the single strand of her hair
on your jacket’s lapel
like the golden second-hand
brushing across an inscrutable face.
Yes, I see it all.
This watch is unstoppable.
© Gail Dendy