20 January 2009

Skeleton

For Patty Neil
I haven’t cried, really cried for a
Thousand years, since everyone died
And left us glistening at the bus-stop,
Hemmed in by the mobile phone adverts.
For all those lifetimes I have held it in,
A rock in my chest, a glut, a dam,
It holds my bones together, kind of,
This old skeleton doesn’t need a shoulder
To cry on, that sort of thing. Sometimes
I forget what it’s like to hold on to
That branch in the flood and put my
Eyes up to the sky, right up, and glare
Direct at the moon criss-crossed with cloud.
Not this week, I’ve got clothes to fold,
And fold, and fold again as my bones creak.
I’ve got washing on the line, half-
Alive in the wind, billowing bodies
Dancing and shape-changing and
Filling my garden with long forgotten
Faces. I haven’t cried, really cried for
A thousand years but I know the old language,
My hieroglyph is a tear, a
Drop of water meaning life; no point
In giving up like the others, the one
In the kitchen with the cord round his
Neck, the one snuffing out her soul in the
Garage – this mess of storms and sunlight
On face is what makes this skeleton get up
And walk to the top of the highest hill and
Stop, and, standing still, breathe.

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