A B-grade movie drumbeat of doors and panes,
all night the wind tackles this eyrie
where I will try to sleep on the sofa-bed that only I have mastered
beneath photos of great-great grandmothers in sheitels,
graduations, weddings, and someone who looks like me
leaning against my first car.
My hollow-eyed cave-wall reflection presides over
the empty intersection below. Streetlight touches
a bag of cherries growing pulpy,
a newspaper creased at the obituaries,
the Ezi-Read calendar floating in the darkened kitchen.
Dishes gleam where Dad sang as he did the washing up,
motes rising in staves of moonlight as if the melody lingered.
They waited hopefully all day
for one of my famous jokes. But my humours
bubbled away in solicitude’s alembic,
all day my tempers hissed and leaked
like a geothermal zone, bubbles of impatience popping
as my dogged, dutiful performance was transformed
into fairy-tale kindness in chats with the neighbours.
Like albums and dictionaries losing pages as the spines break
silence laps at the edge of conversations:
what they mustn’t be told about family crises,
dispatches from distant wars
and what must be said, for what lies on the other side of telling:
the names of villages and cameo players
coming on like solitary lights across a lake.
A last look at my e-mails. My wife has sent me
a picture of our olive tree. Hardly feted,
to her delight it has flowered for the first time.
A smattering of white and green neon bunting,
nubs askew, like families holding hands in kindergarten paintings.
Perhaps after fruitless years pot-bound roots found
a way through to the soil. Or perhaps
it was time for some fabled bird,
down from circling time’s thermals, high and alone,
to lift its flamboyant green and white tail
from the garden’s tapestry
into a momentary renown.