Loss

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.

Phil Vernon, from issue No. 80

Do you have the time?

As if I’d just locked up
and left the key inside –
when you turn round
and it’s too late –
I look at the door and windows
of our old place,
the house pretending
to be asleep.

This feeling, standing by the gate,
what is it?
The past is here
and feels like loss,
but isn’t lost.
Living in the present,
when tomorrow
is what you do today
and time has no lid,
took up all our time.

It’s happening now,
looking at the door which
cannot let me in
even though I have a key –
my daughter’s face,
looking up at me
in the window
looking back.

Chris Hardy, from issue No. 80

Small Stone Church

You meet it unexpected through the windshield’s sleety snow,
The whitening roof of a church in looped compactness hunched
Like a pioneer caught in the weather behind a horse and plow
With his hoar hat bent to the effort, his freezing shoulders hunched.
Your headlamps brush the stones of it, still grey,
Still stones though mortared into a wall
Solid as a promised truth. Fleetingly, you see
Its understated window, ashy pale
Inversion of an inner rainbow’s fire.
And at first you think it is gone, abandoned,
As you sweep on through swamp cedar down a thinning icy road.
But it refuses extinction, keeps shape, is there,
Anchored in the heart, a cairn in the wilderness.
Roof slush.
True stone.
Guessed-at glory in the window glass.

Tony Cosier, from issue No. 81