i. When I think of you I think of snow arriving overnight,
of waking to find it perfecting the ground
around the house you’d taken half your life
to achieve, stuck on a hill out of town
with its grand manor pretensions. I was never sure
you liked it but in any case I felt positively Jane Austen
in that yellow room, the one for guests
that you relabelled mine where I kept bags full
of the kind of stuff you collect travelling
to prove you’ve been away. Each time I’d return
your dog would try to stare me down:
like you, he wasn’t one for strangers.
ii. I can still hear your great booming voice and you
telling the story how you spiralled off the tower
at the steelworks, breaking a regiment of bones
too numerous to name and how you stayed out of gaol
after that one stint (three years reduced to eighteen months)
after an argument that left one man dead.
A bit too handy with knives you said
jokingly but left the details to history and kept the regret
carefully from your voice. People thought we
were lovers, presumed too much difference between us
to be anything else but we weren’t bothered with that.
Sometimes friendship is riskier.
iii. I remember driving the Astra up to your house,
listening to Annie Lennox belt out songs,
the windscreen wipers pushing back the slush.
On the day we parted I shed no tears
but that fierce awkward embrace had me rattled
for hours. I said I’ll be back but you didn’t believe me;
time and an ocean’s distance have proved you right.
Here, it does not snow
but on a night like this, still and cold,
I wake early and look out over the dawning sea,
out over the sleeping dark water.