You’d already walked far further


year: 2008

You’d already walked far further,
Said far more that day
Than most other days;
Your usual/regular rhythm upset
By our unseasonal presence.

From your belltower
I swear I heard at last
A damp clanging awaken
under thirty years of dust;
that tower that had seemed so lofty
unfathomably tall to a child
eternally too small.
Only later I understood that
It was you who had built it,
First as a retreat from where
You’d kick down any ladder,
With inner child abandon.
When the last brick was laid,
to jump down from what
Had now become your prison
Was to shatter every limb,
To raze you to the ground.

One must learn signs, signals,
To be a child.
Well today I have earned
My Bletchley Park stripes,
And what’s more – unawares
You witnessed my triumph.
I realised that code has no memory:
Each rune is a single transmission of intent
With no inference or relation
To what it may or may not have meant
previously. Refer only to its present tense as
This is your entire world, complete.

Kaddish must be said over
All talk about forgiveness,
Limkhol v’lo lishkoakh.
We must leave our scars
To the wind, our projections
To the past: this is the essential key
To clothes, ladders and belltowers.

You laughed off my suggestion,
Half idle,
That you take up campanology
In retirement.
Half idle – the habit I slid into
When we met, on rare occasion,
To help you dress
Your own discomfort
In something civil,
More tolerable.
Yet today you let me wear
My own clothes.

I know I am
the burden of your guilt
In human form;
You see nothing
But a crown of regret
On your own face
Each time you see mine.

Despite my ungodly hours,
You didn’t go to bed:
You stayed on the sofa,
Flicking last week’s listings,
Just to be near.

In that moment
From under the mask
A flash
Revealed a room that neither of us knew,
Pristine: Fresh paint,
Grout, and plastic sofa coverings.
If I promise to be careful with the carpet
Can we please stay here for a while?