Poetry / December 2017 (Issue 38)

Six Poems

by Alan Jefferies


You keep going back
into her shadow
to find her clothes

Stack them into piles
by shape, by colour
what does it mean 
all these categories
She is gone,
that's all that matters


I found a hair scrunched up
at the foot of the bed
while changing the sheets

I could tell it was hers
long, straight and shiny black

I wrapped it round and round 
my ring finger and wondered
how it could be
that all of her beauty 
had become this single 
strand of hair

and i wore it like that
for days until
it too, dissolved in my tears


Last night i dreamt 
you were in the backyard 
of my childhood home

There, in the coolness of dawn
a fully grown lion 
resting on its haunches

You went straight up to it
and threw your arms gently 
round its neck, burying your face 
in its mane 
while i stood well back
ready to turn on my heals
& run for the hills
"See, she whispered,
there's nothing to be afraid of"


If a friend, a visitor
should stay a week, a month
why, the pleasures all mine
Ne'er do I ask
why must you leave?, or 
how long before you come again?

We savour the moment 
we've been given,
we rejoice in the time we've had...

Why is it so hard?


Often at night you wake me
with something more to say
Mostly it's of little import
A gentle reminder—
ring your mum
put the bins out
You are as tender now
as you were then
nothing has changed
I still love you

I had come to her grave
for some reason, an anniversary
birthday, I can't remember which
And there was this guy doing some work on the grave 
right next to my late wife's plot
he was putting formwork around the perimeter
"It's the resting place of a Somali refugee,"
he explained
"His wife couldn't afford a headstone
so I agreed to put something here."
"Anything is better than a mound of dirt, right?"
"Right," he agreed
Eventually he stood up from what he was doing 
and looked serenely at my late wife's headstone
"Young," he said
Young, I nodded 
"Sudden," I said
Sudden, he nodded 

I could feel the beginnings of a single crystalline tear
forming in the corner of my eye
and before it could fall 
He turned and hugged me—
this tall, dark, beautiful, stranger
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