When I think about childhood, all that family
Palaver seems a grim parade of fights
And tears, with dumb rage bubbling below
Then her, sickening and dying;
And him, drinking and sighing.
Some memories come always dark and cold.
But some glow bright and warm. This rain, for instance,
Beating on the window, zooms me down a lens,
Back to weekend afternoons in winter:
Red coal fire, round the telly, ‘something good’ on,
Plates of butter-dripping toast.
And outside, ranks of raindrops suddenly
Flinging themselves against the glass,
Then running down to die in
So den-like, close and covert felt that space
Where we five, secret sharers, sat
Arranged around the nylon carpet swirls,
Grateful and quiet, while outside mad winds moaned
And clouds like grey destroyers steamed across the sky.
And somehow even then we knew that holding
Things too tight could make them disappear.
Don’t stare too straight at them or dare to say
Out loud that, ‘ This is just the way things are’.
Our bones knew happiness a deer that spooked,
And fragile peace a snowflake, born and gone.
Remember how the Seven Sisters, dotted
On the infinite black ceiling of our skies,
Would fade if we reached up to grab and
Roughly pin them down with eyes.
That smudge of shimmered silver only crept
Onstage and stayed,
When we remembered … we remembered how
Things worked, and let our gaze, all sparkling
With love and constellations, slide away.
Copyright © John McIntosh 2015
I’m a 55 year old father of two daughters, working as an English teacher in a leafy suburb of Glasgow. Had a couple of things published in The Glad Rag, in-house artzine for the Glad Cafe in Shawlands, and online for National Collective during the referendum campaign.