For Patty Neil

I haven’t cried, really cried for a
thousand years, since everyone died
and left us glistening at the bus-stop,
hemmed in by the mobile phone adverts.
For all those lifetimes I have held it in,
a rock in my chest, a glut, a dam,
it holds my bones together, kind of,
this old skeleton doesn’t need a shoulder
to cry on, that sort of thing. Sometimes
I forget what it’s like to hold on to
that branch in the flood and put my
eyes up to the sky, right up, and glare
direct at the moon criss-crossed with cloud.
Not this week, I’ve got clothes to fold,
and fold, and fold again as my bones creak.
I’ve got washing on the line, half-
alive in the wind, billowing bodies
dancing and shape-changing and
filling my garden with long forgotten
Faces. I haven’t cried, really cried for
a thousand years but I know the old language,
my hieroglyph is a tear, a
drop of water meaning life; no point
in giving up like the others, the one
in the kitchen with the cord round his
neck, the one snuffing out her soul in the
garage – this mess of storms and sunlight
on face is what makes this skeleton get up
and walk to the top of the highest hill and
stop, and, standing still, breathe.