No 120 - 1990
The Trouble With Dying
For months I had lain trance-like
trying to see my father’s ghost
forming itself between the white
moonlight and the striped wallpaper.
He never arrived, and I wondered whether
it was because we had not known each other,
so that there was nothing he could
grab hold of to drag himself back.
For even at ten I felt that ghosts
had difficulty in coming through.
Now the hoar frost glitters in my
headlights as I drive to the Cathedral
Close in Norwich. I have decided it is
time I learned how to die.
To do this I stand in a dimly-lit room
with a dozen other men and open myself.
Quite quickly they begin to sing,
chant, talk tongues, jump, dance, kneel
and repond. For half an hour I am
in a corner waiting for something to happen.
At the end there is a silence in which
they sit as though exhausted before
casually coming back into the world.
I know time is running out.
I think: on the other side of the war,
my father is too far away from me now.
I do not fit easily here.
Norwich Cathedral chimes behind its
stained glass, the hoar frost glitters:
another lesson in dying has passed me by.
Soon my daughter will be coming home
and I know that though I mix this cold
moonlight with every shape upon her pale
wallpaper, she will dance lightly away
without ever a single glance back.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The