Phil Vernon, from issue No. 80


I met you only briefly, twice,
perhaps a dozen years ago
beneath the pinnacles of ice
you feared. I wonder, often: did you sow
those seeds you held, into the melted snow?

You stood there slight, but this stood out:
you were a powerhouse of grief;
alone. And certain – way past doubt –
of utter undeception, in whose teeth
you’d lost your grip of comfortable belief.

So deep, so deep, you felt distress,
it stayed unburied, near to hand,
from where you vouched your forthright sense
the gods, with arbitrary spite, had planned
to visit drought upon and scorch your land.

I screwed my eyes against the glare
of highland light which bathed, and drained
all life, from the deserted square;
I wanted nothing, nothing more, right then
than for you to be healed and whole again,

and still, today, I think of you
abandoned – brittle, proud – by grace.
I pray you found a pathway through
the melting snow to reach a burial place
wherein to plant anew; a safer space.