"Your Bright Jays": a poem by Robert Selby

Darling, all the years left to me would not allow
enough time to describe how much I miss you.
I wanted to tell you I know you’re gone now.
I address this not to your imposter, who,
in heart-stopping moments, registers recognition in her eyes –
when I arrive in the red cardie you knitted during a knitting phase,
or she slaps my wrist for slurping tea, a habit you despised.
But then the sun goes in and her eyes glaze.

I love you, and so I visit her every day.
When she won, I had to give you up; I couldn’t manage the fear.
She calls after me, frightened, when I come away.
Sometimes it’s not my name. Or it is, but with a sneer.
Today, after she was settled, I came home to the kitchen table, and cried.
It was so quiet, I could hear your bright jays playing on the roof.
I knew then that you had died.
The body is negotiable fact, the spirit truth.

This article first appeared in the 20 May 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The Dream Ticket