Poems about Family

Whatever happens inside these walls stays inside these walls you once said and here, now, inside the walls of my heart, your hand prints are stamped in ochre, your face in relief an etched carving father your face, in my mind, is like a rubbing, worn away now by Time’s silent steps but the harder I try, the more that I rub the more I can see, and I see you now, lying there, your body an excavation site plundered of all of your treasures, bare brittle bones unearthed beneath this crypt of covers, the crusted carcass of a dinosaur crassly arranged, the fragile fossilised remains of the giant you once were and I use this pen now to try to know you, to try to find you once more, this pen the shovel by which I dig through the damp dark earth of my memory searching for buried treasure, some artefact of the man you were when I, a child, thought your footprints resounded across the sky, that the trees bowed low to you and these walls trembled with the weight of your presence and I try, to unearth some precious relic, the way your face crinkled when you laughed, the way your hair smelled when it rained, your feet tapping to the tune of the blistering radio marble forearms scuffing away at your shiny shoes and I try, to lift these remnants of you gently, carefully, choosing, sifting through the silt and sludge of memory, placing precious pieces inside glass cases in my mind curating the way in which I want to remember you, my museum of memories made of all of the tiny scattered pieces of you, a place I can visit for a lifetime, brush each precious piece of pottery placed with my fingertips as I tread these hallowed halls, footsteps echoing through time and I remember you then, that day, a pile of desecrated bones and where had the essence of you gone? Picking our way through a lifetime of rubble as we sat round your bedside, with you, pinned there on show, and us, with front row tickets to an exhibition we hadn’t bought tickets for, didn’t want to see, best seats in the house for this primeval dance between breath and the sudden shocking silence, we sat, entombed with you, bent beneath the weight of all our memories and we didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to watch, prostrated on your bed, suppliants awaiting your last command and you, silent and stately, a once great Pharoah, we gilded your flaws gently in gold as you glided from this life to the next, your golden chariot this flimsy hospital bed that couldn’t hold you, couldn’t contain the wonder of you, my father I will build you a pyramid with my words, blocks of devotion piled high to the sky, a labyrinth of letters leading me back to you spelled out in the hieroglyphs of a broken heart and I will look for you always, sailing amongst the constellated stars, a Sphinx, I will watch for you, my gaze forever set upon the distant horizon waiting, for you to track your glorious golden trail across the sky, a great king fallen, a warrior slain, and the silence slammed into the walls as you left us, shook the foundations of that tiny room, tore up our foundations yet the curtains…those curtains still lifting and falling like a soft breath, the only movement in this stillness, and you there, entombed in this room and this sacred silence, the caverns of your body now hollow and vacant, time forever standing still, and me, forever digging, fingers fumbling to find you again, forever building walls with my words, choosing them brick by brick, sentence by sentence, trying to hold onto the memory of you, to make you stay, forever inside these walls.

You have your way. I have mine.
You lay flowers. I write lines.
It’s all remembrance:
just different ways to remember.

You brush the earth and talk to her
about the weather or the man next door.
I walk with her in dreams somewhere:
then in a poem she’ll appear.
It’s all remembrance:
just different ways to remember.

You keep it tidy: tend the grave
but I’m two hundred miles away.
Yet now and then she slips inside
the thoughts I think; the words I write.

I don’t take flowers on Mother’s Day,
at Christmas or her last birthday.
You deck the stone with trinkets bright.
I count her stars in pitch black nights.
It’s all remembrance:
Just different ways to remember.

For both of us, throughout each day,
find our own peace in our own way
and know that she is never far
from where we stand and who we are.

When all the twinkle-stars were up

And you tucked me into bed

“Don’t go, mommy” That phrase you loved

And we’d snuggle together. Slept

I still remember 

How the same stars were cold 

When you were the only one in bed

“Tell her it’s okay to let go”

They said

But I don’t remember

When all I could see were tearful stars

And I’d tucked you into bed

Did you want to go? Alone. So far

Or was it I, who left instead.

I still remember

As I walk down this worried path,
where many a man and beast have tread.
Pondered the life I do hath,
wonder at what was weaved by life’s thread.

Regret is in the margins of my mind,
for regret is not a thing of the unselfish.
It is a thought that is always unkind,
and just a thought that is here to punish.

Walking with my father when just a boy,
whose thread of life is not yet weaved.
With a fertile mind ready for the seed,
that some men are ready to deceive.

The fork in the path is up ahead,
like all forks it offers choice.
The boy will choose in his fathers stead,
striven to remember his fathers voice.

And if the path he walks is full of turns,
Demons plague him and point the way.
At this time for his father he yearns.
for just a hint or where the right path lay.

When the path runs straight and true,
and there is little else to do.
No longer driven to achieve,
still there are those who would deceive.