In this between day we fold worry away like old thin napkins,
feign a serenity worn lightly as linen, try to lower our voices.
Your garden never shadows till late, small talk adds up to nothing.
Waiting for illness to shrivel the apple of you to peel and core
we tally the years in gold and dross, drink too much, too little.
Dark makes us watchful as windows, and I know that each of us
is counting, gathering breath. August night hangs there, rustling,
dry as papery honesty, fragile silvered coins. Your sky is full of stars.
How I pull open each dark drawer flowering dust to day.
Your pastels are in faded rows like piano keys,
thin tuneless sticks of hidden blanched hours, no tones
but those of the pith of lemons, powdered skin,
or tinned pale salmon Sunday tea. I must pencil you in.
How your red coat hangs like a homing flag hooked fast
behind the kitchen door, pockets still full with your hands,
and the blue scumbled sky washed as it always was
with Norfolk flint and slate, slips down to the Bure.
I need to shade in your leaving, draw the curtains tight.
On the day I nearly left our future,
it was in a wicker basket on ascending currents,
breath tipped with trees, looking down and away.
Morning had seen me dressing, edgy as an insect,
a fleeting reflection of wings multiplied in mirrors,
trying to hold back flight, abandon thinning bedroom air.
We’d billowed taut from the downs, tongue-tense, autumn
blight browning fields, and both of us full of louring sky.
Grapes of balloons rose slow, like rainbow bursts toward the sea.
Lifting. I believed leaving could be as simple as this, almost
an easy sigh of slipping land. How to explain that sudden shift
of light, the necessary weight of you, how close I came to falling.
Originally from Budleigh Salterton, Devon, Mary has been living in France near Aix en Provence for 45 years and is a freelance translator. Poetry holds an enormous place in her life; she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2010 and 2011 and has been published in online magazines.