Lying on the bed with my mother,
Wearing my father’s Alpaca overcoat.
Here, Upstairs, where the air is old
And the blue-painted radiators are singing
And the cold cream is liquefying on the dressing table.
My mother can no longer take the cold.
My father was my age when he died.
I look like him everyone says I look SO like him everyone says.
I had to think when she asked me to wear the coat,
For a moment I had to think about it like I didn’t know what she meant.
It was then she called me Danny too many times Danny she called me.
Please, Danny, she said.
So I put on the coat.
She wants to lie down the pain for a moment, just for a moment,
On to the pink candlewick spread, Upstairs, where her body will not take her.
So I lift her in my arms. So light. Oh! Sarah you are SO light. I carry her.
Up. To the age before one is old.
Up where Sarah and Danny once moved in the fluid
Of young bodies and slept, hot to the touch.
We pretend to sleep, Danny and me,
Though I sweat in the coat and I don’t feel well.
But I stay still, for Sarah’s sake I am still.
The afternoon seagulls are mad at something in the garden.
I should investigate because they sound so near and real and mad but I can’t
Because she will not let go of his hand.
After a while, released into the darkness, I get up.
I see very little by the nibbling light of the Sacred Heart.
Sarah. My father’s voice.
And she says nothing she says, nothing.
Leaving me, afraid
That everything might be said and done and said
And she has taken all the cold of the earth into herself.
From Distance. Reproduced with kind permission from Revival Press.