You smelled like your dictionaries and poetry books,
Yellowed by romanticised cigarette smoke and a heavy
Conscience. Stained by a closet full of private letters,
Harbouring a past that you tried to bury, that you still
Let grow and collected, alongside a family that lived,
Butter and salt, you, the hard crust with a heart cramping
Beneath the war zone shimmering still in your body, the tongue
In the bottle, the hand on the balustrade, the thumping and falling.
The seventeen year old who wanted to join the war,
Dreaming of it at the kitchen table, his heart and mind,
Indoctrinated, vibrant with enchantments, the voice hollering
Across his skull, believing every single word. He had no idea
That his enthusiasm would turn into a lifelong guilt that he could
Never drown with his own two hands. The face under water,
Transparent, eyes wide open, mouth screaming into his memory,
Screeching, undying, forevermore, bubbles, bubbles, bursting in
His brain, this man, the gardener, waking up with his ghosts on his skin.
I idealised you, you were ever-present, engaging, strict yet caring.
I didn’t know what went on behind your face, in your body, there
Were times when I was kept away from you, maybe it had already been
Too late at that point, the togetherness, one running to the rescue of the
Other, in what world, around you, next to you, on top of you, squeezed,
Safe and scarred. Exchanging one violence for another, you were there
In order to help and protect, you knew devils inside out, how could I
Have known, the blanket soft and stiff, the waves beneath, the pants wet.
The watch that kept ticking posthumously. The wailing mother.
Each and every letter of guilt and grief and impossible
Reconciliation on old pieces of paper, outlasting you,
Thrown into the trash, history, after it had been made, who
Wanted to read your life? Your part of the story?
How you walked amongst corpses? Your suffering seemed
Unmentionable in the face of the cruelties others endured.
Your grave is no more, the buried family tree, unmarked,
Garbage, with you came life and decay, everything collapsed,
The values and backbone made out of dust and ashes, that would
Never last, the idea of reconstruction, new beginnings,
The blood on hands, the salt, the semen, the booze and wrinkles.
The heirloom unclaimed, wasted, the urn on the chest of drawers,
Checkmate. New earth, distilling the good, the anchor of the past,
Disrupted and unchained, lose, blanketed by seaweed.