~ for Clark
Before you were born
My heart was twined with endings
Father mother friends
The earth I have known and loved
Slowly or quickly vanished
I had forgotten
How senses open newly
The heart’s many rooms
Surprise of the soft first sounds
Laughter like springs inside us
Even the seasons
The changing sea and shore could
Never have foretold
How your tiny beating heart
Returned mine to beginnings
What Was In It
Burnt into memory, the Christmas Eve
when we stood in the cold field looking
into the heart of our house where flame
dripped down into the china cabinet.
My children stood safe beside me.
What objects raced through my head?
The deep burgundy rug of my childhood,
a painting of an August night,
the frail china carried by Bertha
from Dresden before the bombing.
When the fire was extinguished,
we were exhilarated –
nothing lost we couldn’t rebuild.
The damage was in the knowledge
that everything can be lost at any time.
At the dinner table, I asked my son –
youth’s wisdom, uncluttered
with memories and nostalgia –
what was it he would have wanted.
The presents under the tree
because he didn’t know what was in them.
~ for Jane
There’s a story I hear
myself telling myself
and cannot remember
why or when it began
but belong to it now.
When a stand of trees calls
attendance, I answer
and for a few moments I am
swaying empty in their solid quiet.
Thoughts like flocks of swallows
somersaulting through vaults
of blue and grey hours
stop to land on a line,
chattering still, wings resting.
The sturdy walk of my body
knows in those moments its only essence –
continual change, soft heave and suck
of breath, place, pause.
If what I’ve heard is true,
that our souls are shy
and live in a cave behind
our hearts, I’m whispering to mine
so we won’t be strangers
the day my story ends.
Copyright © Noël Hanlon 2017