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Like something gone, a thumb-size

doll smothered in sand or a two 

summers ago favourite dress shoved away 

with the table cloths, I had a notion

that something important was lost.


It was the silences that gave me clues,

the way they built and filled a room.

The way one laid on top of another,

became the impossible to shift shell

of an old motor.


Then there was her face, grey

as a newspaper left out in a storm,

the soft shuffle of slippers, taking

the nap from the carpet, and those 

endless heavy-smelling roast dinners.


He kept his distance but turned up

for meals, then went to sleep, like

the cat. The garden was his place.

He planted onion sets and early

seed potatoes before anyone else.


Somehow, in the quiet of the cold

back bedroom, with its sad pillows

and kidney-shaped dresser, she got

pregnant and bluebells appeared

in a jar on the kitchen shelf.

He bought a chicken coop and talked 

to the birds. Inside words became 

the difficult to understand coinage of 

a foreign currency, spent in tiny amounts

to be sure it lasted the whole holiday.

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