Something like an epitaph
And so now we will have to try and find the words,
we three, sitting here, dumbstruck, the weekend
before Christmas. What we depended on has gone:
there's no talking our way out of this. For once
your silvered laptop keyboard has nothing
to offer. His obituary won't write itself.
Almost exactly square patches of sunlight
interrupt dinner-party table, terracotta walls:
they won't join up. Midway through our lives,
we're simply sitting in so much stripped pine,
welcoming distraction - doorbells, kids,
the slightest circumstantial change.
It won't go away. Silence is goading,
a crackling socket in need of fixing.
Whatever it is we'd rather not say
sits tight between sofas, remote controls,
the lifted plunger of a half-warmed cafetiere.
The garden drops away towards another life.
Are we fated to this? I wouldn't go so far -
only damned to it, this frost-clear Sunday,
we're clutching at smart puns, unlikely
recollections, these few tapped-out thoughts,
the things he might have said or done with us,
friends not being friends, really, until now.
At first it might have been coincidence
that we heard so many car horns
shifting through the Doppler effect,
or checked in at hotels where girls
in Sunday best held hands and sang
interminable folk tunes.
Only, the following day, new couples
emerged from a scaffolded church
with candles lit, and family groups
assembled in a park for photographs
where filigree blossom coincidentally
obscured the Stalinist backdrop.
Thirty, forty weddings eased
from ceremonies to pose
beneath late-flowering cherry trees,
anticipated pleasures, and advice
they'd hardly need, being of an age
where all has seemed to changed.
Such innocence again around the square,
these brand new starts, this expectation,
Romanian sunlight on dove-grey dresses.