When I was young, sometimes
we rode the trains overnight
to new houses,
riding a rough disjointed shaft,
rumbling deep into the night.
And in the spaces:
like strange vessels seen from a distance
sailing some dark and blackened ocean.
Dirty yellow stations,
words behind the shuttered windows
asleep in rough blankets
am carried across the shores of memory
toward the vast and orange expanse
For a while, the suburbs ended a few blocks west of us.
We used to cycle there, to where the half empty street ran into a dirt cul-de-sac, to where the city puttered out into vacant space.
From there, all the way to the end of the world, it was nothing but empty farm land. We used to cycle there and imagine life beyond the distant hills. (I have a memory of heavy skies and cold wind rushing through the long bending grass. And silence).
Do you remember the day they came with the dozers and graders to extend the road? One of the workers told us that they were building new houses out there and that one day, there would be houses as far as we could see.
Later that afternoon, after the work crews had gone home, we went back and played on the machinery, until it got dark.
Then you threw a stone at one of the graders, breaking a tail light. You hated the idea of being surrounded by strangers, other people’s homes, their noise.
I have been back there, since. Without you.
I could not find where the tar had ended and the dirt began. The low ridge of hills in the distance is now covered with big, expensive houses.
Dad says it’s a golfing estate.
Later, I went back with my daughter, after the sun had set and threw a stone at one of the street lights.
What did you find when the lights went down?
The end that you had been hoping for?
In dreams, do you walk on water?
Was the grace enough?
And when the ceaseless night
Does not end,
Are you still at peace?
It is cold.
This cold has crept upon us suddenly. For a while it seemed that winter had forgotten to come, but then, as we all were happy for the relative warm days, winter came as a thief in the night.
Through the open back door. And suddenly, we find that we are cold and have been for some time now, lulled into some false sense of hope by the mild temperatures. Now it is too late to do anything.
We have a carpet of yellow leaves that the wind collects and swirls across the garden, down the drive way and to our front door. It is as if they too want to come inside for heat.
A cold front came in yesterday, without you. You are warm where you are. I think of you. Not as often as I used too, but I still think of you. There is a hole now, that place where you were. I see people who remind me of you, of your space and habits.
I have them still, these memories. In that, I am fortunate, I am fortunate for having known you, for having experienced you.
The hose pipe hangs from the tree, so that it does not freeze on the frosted ground.
You have gone. A week ago, silently and on your own.
They say they found you, head tilted to one side and your mouth open. As if to let the spirit out, back to God.
The old man said that he watched you (your form, your shape) for a while from the door, as the carer ran to call the doctor. He then turned and shuffled back to his chair in the lounge and waited. I wonder if he cried, or if he wanted too.
Your room is empty without you. All the pictures have been taken down and the bed has been stripped of the bedding.
Now it is simply an empty space.
There is nothing there that reminds me of you, except the wax bust on the bedside table beside the window.
I wonder where you are now, what you are doing.
Do you have your healthy young body back? Are you doing the things that made you happy as a girl?