Unfinished business: Our David


our david c 2

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

our david c 1


I made this box” appeared originally in Much Possessed. smith|doorstop 2016

5 thoughts on “Unfinished business: Our David

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