Your mellow touch has gone, off with the
Blue, red flashing lights that came for you on
That day. I hadn't noticed life being taken
From you, seized a little bit too rudely,
S0 quietly in the morning, the days, nights,
I feel the presence. You have not gone.
The empty space on your chair where you
Sat, a reflection in the mirror I can still see.
Our kindred spirits, a keen mind wandered
Astray, a lost memory you did try so hard
To catch, worried that you were losing it,
Not knowing what it was to begin with, to
Roll with the blows, a frenzy to end up like
My father. Peace of mind, a point to start
With, to look for, but it was in the family, a
Silent killer, a slow death that came to you.
A dent in your armchair looking to be filled,
Deep undulating undercurrents not leaving
Me be, a seismic shift in every day, I
Move to make you a cup of tea, but you
Are not around to drink it. Unspoken words
In heart-rendering times, some ongoing
Attempts to fill the time, empty results as a
Twilight of day ends in a hazy dew.
Loose ends, a void opened underneath me,
Unsure of what I should do next, the time
Thrown at me like a spring release, what to do
If the walls appear the same as before.
I'm wobbly on my feet, seeking to utter
Your name, were I small I would yet climb
On your lap as my place is lost in an hour's
Absence, I am by myself that much more.
If my girl could dance with me in this
Empty room, telling me the right foot to put
To fill the empty spaces, empty phrases.
Her lilting accent, silent gaps, help defeat
The dark, fill the crevices that have come.
Stayed, appeased, given me a new strut,
Resplendent in defeat that was, come give
Me a hug, as you would, show the lead.
A search among the bramble bushes and
A sight of a flower garden, to lay down
The ashes to sprout a tree of life and more,
The risk of time blowing back in my face.
That loss of intention replaced with an aim
Now, the wind will take off what remains sown,
The sea breeze blowing hard on my back,
Helping me, cajoling me to find my place.
I first thought of this poem one evening this past summer. I had been musing at the time on my mother's death of a short illness a few months before, and her dementia diagnosis some years prior to that. Long before the coronavirus pandemic, I had been my mother’s primary carer. Her sudden death left me with the uncanny and unanticipated experience of having a great deal of time on my hands, and not knowing what to do with it, to say nothing of the great existential gaps in my life that followed her passing. I also took to anticipating my Russian girlfriend filling in some of the gaps.
In style and substance, this poem owes a great deal to the Russians and the English Romantics, the former of whom I studied extensively during my Master’s in Russian literature. Three poems in particular which have inspired my verses below are Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory Of My Mother” and “Memory of My Father”, and Pushkin’s “To My Nanny.”