He was earth to her
the ground, the soil, the fertile land.
And it was true that seeds sprouted in his hands,
vibrating their blind cotyledon leaves towards the light.
To me he was like the sea—the sea on stormy days,
its deep calm centre barely visible
below the fidgeting glossing quicksilver waves.
But he must have been earth
because it took him in the end.
After he died I went with her to his house,
the house he’d built from scrap.
It was filled with art and with him:
the polish of the step from his feet,
the tilt of the lamp above his chair.
I felt like a ghost—as if I was looking
from a long way off at his tangible world—
his bed, his sheets, his pillow.
A small object was in the middle of the floor.
We don’t know how it got there.
It was a gourd I gave him when we were lovers.
I had painted it with fertility symbols:
a red triangle, a little hen and lots of dots.
I stood in his bedroom next to our daughter
and turned it over in my hand and I felt as if
we had spoken of what was important
in the end.
This poem was written about six years ago. I was inspired to post it after reading SENRYU — 11022014-3 by Ron Evans. It is sudden and surprising, the feeling when one’s ex dies.