Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Iain Twiddy

February day, a day like the way
no one ever says February fully,
a dusting of snow in the gravel garden
so it’s hard to tell the snow from the stones,

and the heaters smacking heat at the head
in the empty-chaired living area,
where the fire would be snapping if it was real;
and there’s no click by which she might recognise

me; I may be just as much a mess of ice
as a man she sculpted, I mean nourished, washed,
taught to read and speak, and let exhausted sleep;
she doesn’t know my name, doesn’t know she has sons,

doesn’t know what the sun is, why it sheets
so widely in the late afternoon, as it slips,
doesn’t know it will slide up again to light
icily the shelves with the never-read books,

the bowl cerealed with marbles, as the earth
rolls like the slowest ever polished marble
it wasn’t enough just to touch, you had to own;
and in turn, I don’t know, if dementia

is a shrinking, a sour, why it should seem
like the wildest desertification,
the brain deciding to have its machine-gun
shootout in the moony bunker of the skull;

I’ve lifted that from a book I read once,
as a kid, an accidental German pistol;
so I have no idea if it happens,
if bullets keep on ricocheting forever,

no idea how, flown in from far east Japan,
how we two can be in the same room –
I who was once lodged cosmically in her womb,
drinking her in – and still be nowhere near,

and yet so approaching her condition,
twenty years from here, when I will know this
inside-out, though every trace, every fibre,
every atom of her will have perished;

almost as if the catty nib at the pad
writing late on a hard February night
were at the same time shredding it into snow.