Life, Poetry, Writing

Pain in progress (again)


I wrote this poem after one of my friends died last year, another victim of cancer. This week, for many reasons, the words and the feelings I had then are haunting me again.


All the lamps are lit
in every window.
I feel the warmth beneath my own hands
feel the flicker
inside my own room.
What lights the lamps?
What makes a fire
where there was only
wick and oil and a breath of wind?
I don’t know.
But all the lamps are lit
the light is everywhere
spilling through the curtains
through your fingers
through the glass
through the whispers in the hallway
through your eyes, half opened.
I can feel the light
in you
in me
warm in my hands
every word
every breath
every cut and bruise and scar
another bit of light.

And then the lamp is put out,
I didn’t see
didn’t hear
didn’t feel
it happen.
Where did the light go?
What puts out the lamps?
What takes away the light?
What makes the darkness
over the horizon
over the threshold
over your lips?
What eats away the light
ripping it out of your grip?
(Or did you let it?
Did you let it
Did you let it
go out?)
I don’t know.
I’m cold.
I look across the field
brown reeds broken by the snow
trees crouching low
cradling the dusk
in their arthritic branches.
The sky is
cut bruised scarred
and there is just a breath of wind
stroking the grass.

I see your window
on the other side.
The lamp is not lit.

I can still feel the glow.

(For another Maria.)


This poem can be found in my book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’.

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