Empty Chair

Written for my late husband, who passed away almost ten years ago.

As the warm,
comforting glow of
Yuletide shenanigans,
wraps itself around
my melted heart.
As the last candle on
the mantel,
sings a soliloquy and
melts into new
incarnations of its waxy self.
And the ten years since you
rendezvoused with
the light side,
I see your chair
all empty there.
Missing you.

That last Christmas.
Heaven knew
that the angel of time
was pausing
her inhibiting breath,
whilst you cherished your last.
We gasped those last months
in expanses of
winterscape lungs.
And I don’t know
but I’m sure the universe
painted our visions
titanium white,
what with the snow and
cerulean, stark winter sun skies.
I see the space in our bed.
The place where once was
mortal.
All empty there.
Missing you.

I knew you’d be here.
And you were.
Amidst the shreds of gaudy
and rips of tearing carnage.
Presents from a widow’s
best efforts.
Brave smiles, well-rehearsed
after ten years of
Xmas dinners for two
and only one big one
at the table.
Playing secret Santa
and making all the
responsibilities
look easy.
There should’ve been
Frolicking with crackers,
and snapping away
our feigned hilarity
as we tossed lame jokes
into joyous memories.
But turkey’s for two
now.
Your plate all empty there.
Missing you.

Sarah Drury 2020.

Heart of My Love

Heart of my love

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
It quivered tenderly in my silk-gloved palm.
Like an Autumn leaf, mercilessly crushed under stiletto heels.
A porcelain breath was too strong for its fragility.

It used to pulsate within my lover’s rib-throb chest.
But the signal was fading, and mortality was quickly cascading.
There is no iPhone charger for a hearse-hemmed heart.
Only hopes and dreams,
as I drag my faith from the sacred of my sacrilege.

The angels had seen Jesus and his name was John.
As he swallowed stars and dined on cheese, with the man in the moon.
I showed them the heart and the heavens lamented.
They’d made a seat by the lord, yet the lord bowed down
to wash his life-ragged feet.

So, I ripped out the songbird
from the cherry tree.
It cast its beady eye and sang elegies with a smashed glass beak.
With resentment glinting, it was glaring at my psyche.
It was crushed in my palm and coveting the sky.

It sang of a pure, unblemished love.
Where virgins adorned the sanguine story of our hearts.
So sacred as the days when mortals were Prophets.
A gold-leafed lament, I heard the songbird sing.
As I released it from my cruel, artic-ice grip,
and it melted into the watercolour sunrise.

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
Resting in swathes of my gossamer emotions.
Never had anything so delicate graced my gypsy, tealeaf palms.
But my crystal ball was clouded,
like the blatant truth of my fairytale eyes.

The heart slipped carelessly from my grasp.
Lilting through fingertips and sailing through oceans of sorrow.
I picked it up wistfully, slipped it in my pocket.
Hoping to mend it with silk stitches,
embroider a tapestry with a skein of hope.

And give you the gift of life
and hush the scorning songbird and his wicked songs
bleating I was a widow, not a faith hungry wife.
But I emptied my ears and knelt in prayer,
and clipped my turbulent tongue.

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
I caressed its tender, brutal wounds.
I burnished it with solid gold and told it soulful tales of old.
He whispered he didn’t need it
anymore.

Black

It was a black day
and it was a BLACK day
I, the newly widowed
clothed in blackbird feathers
Shining like a mirror
reflecting fallacies
not faces
Swathes of blackish sorrow
consumed my
eiderdown of grief
Whilst collective tears
pooling
at my crushed stiletto feet
like seas of emotional
effluent
How many truly cry
when others
snivel in consolation?

*

Coffins muffle the
sonority of
grieving mouths
Damping down the
exaggerated pulse of
blood red hearts
Barriers to paradise lost
remind the dead
not to breathe
For death is
breath without lungs
and mortality is life
without living

*

We didn’t have a church
for you would turn
in your fire-ash not-grave
Phoenix smiting from
the flames
the Godly fallacy
Singing godless psalms
of Elbow
and Eva Cassidy
I wished I’d listened
to your heart
for the reggae in your soul
I painted on my face
of have no feelings
Cherry lips set in
a rigor mortis pout
Spider eyes kept dry by
waterproof mascara
Emotion
Emotion
Emotion
Less

*

And my love is
ash
I am married to
a brown plastic urn
And the wedding rings
don’t fit anymore
Me with my
disconsolate finger
You with your hands
busy playing harps
in Heaven

©2020 Sarah Drury

Father

My father was
an accountant
Man of many vices
But he loved us
to the grave
Coffin in the flames
I waited for a phoenix to
emerge
But got Pompei

Juggling booze
and fags
and indiscretion
Libido painted
as a female fuck
Alibis weaved like
religious confessions
sliding off a
secular tongue

Thirty three years
gone by
History repeats
like an acid reflux
deja vue
And they say
my son needs
a father figure
And I say
fuck the patriarchy
I am all the man
he needs

©2020 Sarah Drury

I was Alice’s Aunty Once

When I was a teen, I worked in a home for the elderly. One of the old ladies had dementia…

Fourteen years old
And radiating a future
Of fruitful tomorrows
In this graveyard for
The not yet dead
With the old bones
Rattling around in this
Old people’s home
One ear on the
Monotonous drone
Of dead eyed visitors
And one eye on
The steady tock
Of the analogue clock
As death permits
A last cup of tea

They had memories – Once
But these were stolen
And minds were broken
Words come tumbling
Out like retrospective
Dramas spoken
Wartime lovers
Dancing with hope
This hopeless dance
With feet that may not
March next week
As they savour
The last of their rations

I was Alice’s aunty once
As I led her to her
Favourite chair
Skin so parchment thin
Her story was written
In the spiderlike veins
And downy hair
Eyes trusting as a child
That thinks it’s going
To Paris
But is cruelly going
Nowhere decent
Nowhere they could feast
On warm croissants

I wondered
Was this aunt
Loved
And hoped that
I could share a bit
Of my naïve heart
I prayed I could lovingly play
A nurturing movie star
In her world of
Broken dolls and
Tattered teddy bears
Where she was now
The child
And I, the child
Was now
Very grown up
Indeed.

© 2020 Sarah Drury