We were never reckless;
We crept up to the little shed in the garden,
drew forth the broken barbecue,
offered feet and hands as ladders,
pushed the hatch,
climbed up and up and up
into the secret room that was ours.
We lined it with candles and cushions and beer bottles
and smoked until the cracklings and hushes were too loud
so we spilled out and out and out into the shadows,
our hands like shaking spiders,
spinning into fresh garden air.
We looked up to the stars
and understood nothing.
Life loved me to drunken pieces.
A pink ostrich-teddy sent from Africa
arrived in the mail right on time,
but with the wrong name.
I hear it
in the first light, so
seven suns beneath my eyelids.
I wail: I am born with a gasp,
with a shock, ropes to shoulder
-blades burn red hot and
pull down into my body.
My Father left me tulips
by my bedside table.
In His eyes I saw our memories
I saw my grandfather’s hands,
my mother’s purpose.
To provide, to preside,
we dine and drink to fleeting moments.
I followed the moth
to Northern skies
far from the homeland
searching for sweeter blossoms.
Grazed knees, fluttering laughs,
“sticks and stones may break my
bones”. I swim in skies eternal, arms
outstretched around the world. I see
flights of stairs, sandboxes, satchels,
muddy fingers, enough stars to get lost
in and “Do you think we’re standing
upside down?” or “I’ll be older than you
when I turn seven.”
When I was eight my brother brought me
to the garden; his smile was like
a street, running between the toothy gaps
and blushing crimson in discovery.
He told me “I found a dinosaur”
and showed me a pink baby bird,
featherless and sticky like a lolly.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
I feel my shadow creep up on me,
its slinking hands caress my neck
and kiss my back
(side by side
hand next to hand
fingertips touching fingertips)
Seven days feel long
when they’re not by your side,
so I hold my drink too hard and
I wake up with someone else’s taste
in my mouth and I hang-
over the bed.
I dreamt of you every night.
Each day my lungs weigh heavier
with years of dust.
I followed the moth through pathways,
wet pavement and black trees.
In forests we were balloons,
empty and bursting.
From rivals to brothers,
little lung-sails treading
in schoolboy lines, ducklets,
My mother told me not to forget
to breathe. I exhale.