Poem of the Month: December 2010

Lovely, lovely boy



A Yorkshire Valley
I take risks with memory
whenever I pass his bedroom door,
open an album of photographs
or find something
with his handwriting on,
my lovely, lovely boy.

And I remember the early physicality of love,
producing milk to his waking cries,
and later, guts jolting with a leap of fear
when I saw him,
on top of the highest slide,
poised for a headlong swoop.

When he came home last
he treated his favourite chair
like a temporary bench on a railway station,
sitting on it like a stranger.
In transit.
He stared, unseeing over the valley
he used to love;
and he shook his head from time to time,
In silent argument.

When he did not wash, or change his clothes
His beauty camouflaged,
I thought of drugs.
But there seemed to be no highs
just a plateau of lows
in one whose excitement had been palpable.
And when I was tidying his room
I found he had turned the mirrors
to face the wall.

It seemed like possession
[the medical label was without value
for something so medieval].
He heard voices whispering through the static
whispering him worthless.
he was frightened by the light
in people’s eyes
and the worldwide conspiracy of machines.

One morning I had to go out,
and left him listening
to something i could not hear
through the open window,
with something I could not read
in his eyes.
I came back to absence,
He was there and yet not there,
And I called his name again and again
To a staccato of small silences.

Finding him,
I called his name once more to a larger silence.
There would be no answers.

I take risks with memory
whenever I pass his bedroom door,
open an album of photographs
or find something
with his handwriting on,
my lovely, lovely boy.

© James Nash 1999