Three Years – David Hay
December 24, 2023
Moths painted with a long dead god’s ink blots,
navigate light cold and northern;
A deer’s dew-eyed head engulfed in long grass
beneath a dissecting sun,
tearing the day from night,
rose to arrow heads
sailing through bone
like boats through calm waters.
(My soul is frantic. It contains unnameable multitudes)
Fish heads severed from still flapping bodies sing
Gospel in gluggs and bubbles,
to a beat kept dexterously by Jesus,
Son of God is emblazoned on his drum kit.
He can’t play. He’s lost all sense of time.
He has the face of a long-serving inmate.
There is a loss that words
can’t wrap around and cushion.
A quick peep through the fish’s eyes
displays a sky deep diving,
spiralling a darkness into clear dripping tears –
a fire rises then extinguishes;
smoke lost in black.
A mother fevers sharp into a dead zone
illuminated by spasmodic lightning bolts.
She is a broken woman too tragic to cry for,
dreams are hung by their toes and dangled above
mercurial pastures that shift with each deep sleep breath,
before a simpering frame wiggles then detaches
with a maggot length tear across its foot
that the sun can be seen through and plummets
to mouth open green;
waking, is never really waking up.
Cold sweat, her dead hand an alabaster bridge
in the dark across my forehead,
resting on what should be her last bed,
waking, flesh still held together by bones pressed tight,
stranded in that still born light
easing through curtains as thin as bruises.
A sky in the roof of the eye –
a red car cruises across the horizon –
a cigarette burning into a pastiche of a seagull’s stare.
If I walked to the edge of a modern city,
of which there really is no edge,
would the wind be sated,
with crunched layers of amber-stemmed leaves
and sulking flowers
filling smog-greased lungs?
Lying next to a hospital bed,
my mum asleep, drifting cloud
like through a memory here,
a negated future there.
My heart, no more than an old shoe
regurgitates until black specks,
much smaller than silence float like ashes
sprouting from a long neck volcano.
Panic wakes me every half an hour,
is she dead?
Please don’t make her dead.
A thought later:
let her be dead and
not live on like this.
I love you.
I couldn’t love anything more.
Two weeks of this – of lonely regret
of fear and childish neediness,
John Keats and Jane Austen,
to a woman capsized,
gurgling into a wordless night.
I don’t see my mum – she is already gone –
not dead but not alive.
A flimsy fleshed ghost,
as silent as any strained-dry star.
I think of international tragedies,
of my own beige tragedies,
of the lemon eye stinging pain
of wake up, sleep, living,
of all those left behind.
It is obvious that God has no interest here.
Total darkness is far better than partial.
I have no idea what I will do without you.
A heart full to open of babies’ teeth
cries without reply.
A sun-dried silence lingers in
dirt lined eyes, sleep deprived
limping to an algae covered clam
If a man cries in a tinctured loneliness,
do the trees mother him?
Enclose leaves around a thinning hairline
against winds indifferent
to tears as they are to
a coin pressed eye?
Obviously not but grief makes
fools of billionaires and hard-quiffed businessmen
never mind, soft-fingered writers.
Grief (full bodied word) sheds
artifice and fancy clothes,
undresses us in an all-seeing light.
The bones have stretched and thickened
but the soul – that still centre
in the convalescing storm of crow feathers
and dove beaks is still the same,
as when ice-pops and late-night movies
were much more exciting than orgies.
Each blink is a surrender to time,
every swell of tide, a beating of blood
draining to drowning
in the manicured hand of sweet,
Sisyphus is doing his dumb smile;
meaning through commitment,
noble, tragic, absurd,
in short, an inspiration.
But memories, poison dart
the fake tanned, muscular
neck of moral atheism.
Dryly with librarian lips,
thin and chapped from shushing,
I whisper shut up to a photo.
I can hear it,
even when I leave the house.
Madness massages my brain.
Camus takes a drag on a last cigarette,
clutching his unfinished manuscript,
entering a car, the deepest breath,
and my mum taking her last steps
into the ambulance, a goodbye
not acknowledged as a goodbye,
united in a moment
separated by 80 years.
A prayer is just words.
A scar is a scar is a scar.
I wish we hadn’t argued.
I wish both of us had been fairer.
Your eyes, not the size
but the hue is mine.
Without a beard
I look too much like you.
You shed a light
on each minute of my life,
but now you shadow the hours remaining.
One day, I’m too tired to truly consider it now,
you will be both the shadow and the light.
I grieve you without being able to grieve –
a paradox of your condition and mine.
‘And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.’