Four Poems

Lavinia Greenlaw

There, he says

His wife has died, he is alone
and so we follow him into the storm
because he wants to take us out. Out where?
There, he says as we turn each black corner, there.

A man in grief walking the empty centre
of a Sunday-night small town
caught up in the act of knowing where he’s going
as we repeat the drenched streets.

He’s already got us running in circles
as if we can hold his world in place
even form a new edge.
We say to each other all he needs is rest.

My father lies low

Whenever we have gathered round a table like this
he has been talking or drawing the talk towards himself
but now he sits among conversation
his eyes following the noise
as if we were animals grappling for meat
and he weakened, working hard to go unnoticed,
to be allowed to remain.

My father tells me to wait

When I arrive he is eating and I’m told to wait,
to let him finish, not to unsettle him. I wait.
When he finally sees me
it’s as if he’s been brought to an open door
and made to peer into a dark night.
He’s afraid to ask who’s there. What if someone’s there?
He’d have to invite them in and accompany them through time.
He peers at me and the space between us extends itself
so that I am where he wants me, out there in the dark
in a place without stars or fathers
and he raises his hand and says Stay there, stay there.

My father rises whenever

He runs a bath at four a.m.
and wanders into his neighbours’ rooms.

Nothing tells him not to open doors or that it is dark.
Is it never dark for him now?

The last time he could tell me what he did all day he said
I run things in my head.

I lie awake at four a.m. and think about his head.
The bombed streets and brute structures.

Uncoupled engines
shunting themselves up and down brief tracks.