It was just enough, wasn’t it? His cool fingers
on your arm. Cool and young, unspoilt
by the gnarly heat of living.
It was just enough to get you going, to get you
moving, like you had taken something good
for the first time.
Just enough to let you remember
when everything felt good
the first time.
Even his hair was long, just like the boy
you are thinking of now, the boy
who is gone.
And pitifully, you find yourself
adding up the years, and of course there are more
than just enough
to conclude that this could be his son.
You might say that the leaves are playing
the piano of the rain
as they fall towards the wet pavement,
or that they are really blades, shanks, rusted
with blood, dropped to a dusty prison yard floor.
You might even wish to point to the aged tree itself,
losing its leaves like memories, the last leaf
its own name, falling away untraceably into the air.
It is all you can do to take your mind off yourself.
The corpus of you that was once over there,
and there, and over there,
and is now, briefly,
In trees, unseen birds hurl insults
at each other, while clouds get all weepy in the hills,
and the little lane we walked along
throws up its scent to nobody.
Time has made itself known to the patch of ground
where we smoked our cigarettes
under a fog of gnats, black against an orange sky.
Potatoes grow among raspberries.
Carrots have found themselves among the sugar-beet and thistle.
Barley blows against a first kiss, and four hours in A&E
have nestled down with the flint and the cabbages.
Later, in the stiff chill of night, a fox
will nose over an eroded pail, spilling our laughter
into the weeds.
About the Author: Joel Scarfe's poems have featured in numerous magazines and periodicals, including The Times Literary Supplement, London Magazine, The Rialto, and Interpreter's House. He lives in Bristol UK with the Danish ceramicist Rebecca Edelmann and their two children.