July 29th. He’d have been 46 today, and I go on writing poems for him. I’m taken aback, every time. I think there’s nothing left to be said. But there is. There always will be. Happy birthday, lovely boy
I made this box,
ran quick lead in the veins of driftwood roots,
the silver grain of bleached board and the wind-eyes
of burnished beachstones – rose quartz, granite, flint,
bound them with silver wire to honey oak, red pine,
and clenched them tight with sea-rust iron nails.
I made this box for you
I filled it with fragments, beachcombed
sea glass, wisps of snagged wool.
I wanted you to know
the random loveliness of being alive,
to know it in your bones and blood.
I put in :
snow, to remember draughts
and rooms with cold corners;
a black handled knife, sharp as silk
in a grey-vaulted market, the scent
of cut flowers to show that fathers
give like the gods; a bicycle stammering
through stems of barley, willowherb,
to understand that gravity may be defied;
the humped glass of a brown river,
black branches snagged on the weir’s rim;
these bundled letters in different hands
and inks to show how words fall short of love.
I put in riddles:
silhouettes of mountains, oiled gun barrels,
a sheriff’s badge, a dust-blown street,
a child running in a drift of grasses,
a scrubbed deal table in a pitman’s house.
I wondered if you’d find the answers
if I might understand the questions.
I did not want to put inside my box
your cold clay mouth
this pale oak chamfered cube
and my two hands holding it, all
I wanted was you holding my box
in a high place
where you could only fly, not fall
“I made this box” appeared originally in Much Possessed. smith|doorstop 2016