After their death, for a while

They walk where they used to be.

You see them in old places,

Reflected in Woolworths’ window,

In the avoiding turn of a head,

As the flash of a ring in a crowd

Thick on a nicotined finger.


Slowly they abandon those places

To crouch in shadowed lanes of the heart,

Alleys of almost forgetting;

Thinned like the mornings of childhood

Under the noon stare.


There they dream, that

They may take your hand again

And squeeze it white

In one iced moment of unwanted remembering.


Do you want to be where we are?

Do you want us to close you in the hollow of our arms?

Do you yet believe it truly happened?


Or are you still building bricks by the fireplace

Thinking we’ve stepped out to warm the beds?



(Iota 2006)

6 Responses to “Dead parents”

  1. Pete Jones Says:

    A beautiful poem – some lovely, poignant touches. I liked the move at the end – the shift to asking questions of the dead, that are never answered.

  2. Chrissie Gordon Says:

    This poem is so descriptive and strong – the longing, acceptance and finally the unanswered questions. Chilling for the reality – forcing all of us who still have parents to ponder

  3. Kirstie Edwards Says:

    This poem expresses loss and sorrow so powerfully – it made me cry. Thank you for making me remember.

  4. noelwilliams Says:

    I guess I agree there’s something truthful in this poem, which is perhaps why it works for some people. Though it actually was prompted by a dream about my Dad, rather than my Mum. She might be a little dismayed to know I’d written it, as she’s still going strong. It was the power of dreaming him still alive, then waking, that gave me the poem.

  5. jude brown Says:

    Quite prophetic considering the fate of Woolies!! Noel I love the fragility and I like how it’s them – the dead parents – that might dream of holding hands – very very tender.

  6. Rob Miles Says:

    ‘…And squeeze it white
    In one iced moment of unwanted remembering’ is wonderful.

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