I’ve come to visit your ghost, Father
I’ve come to view the relics
The dead rose petals and gathered stones.
Here in your empty house
I’ve stretched myself
upon your narrow bed of sorrows
I’ve looked through your eyes
into the soul’s darkest night
Through your eyes upon imaginary gardens
of frozen grief by an azure blue lagoon
turned grey with weeping.
Now, in the lingering light
I climb the hill to sit with you a while,
Here, in the garden, where bluebells cast
their quivering veil upon the ground
I take your hand.
Never mind, Papa, I say –
Scissors really do cut paper
Water wears away old stones.
Across the lake light and shadow
chase one another. Swallows
moving like fine-broken starlight.
Acanthus by John Ruskin
ON VISITING THE GRAVE OF JOHN RUSKIN
So here you are, Papa
Quiet at last under your cross
And a handful of dust
all that’s left of ancient sorrow.
Content to lie without a word?
Haven’t you one last burst
from that endless fountain?
No. Poor bones.
Sleep on then
and take your well-earned rest.
I’ve brought you a bit of lilac