Long-listed for the 2014 Hunter Writers Centre Grieve Writing Competition.
Against your dying, I lit
candles by proxy in distant cathedrals, comforted somehow by
flames that burned so far away, beneath
the loving eye of lives already lived.
Yours was the old God of such
unyielding might, such
flawless lines, such remembered grandeur.
For your eternal destination, you looked back to
times you hadn’t seen, and maybe
I longed to light your way.
Yours was the God of answers, never
questions, but I was full of them: angry little heathen who worshipped
at the altar of reason, laying
obstinate obscenities at the feet of
so cruel a power.
Mine was the inherited God of
insidious guilt and gnawing doubt that ate away
your stone foundations. While your God demanded
only service, I demanded of mine explanations
I made pleas to my God of understanding; I struck matches
off my agony and fed the fire with my rage
and I lit tiny lights in places where I had been
happy, storing up warmth for a future
without you, when I would have to
I never saw them go out
those candles I lit for you: never saw them
extinguished as you were when you lay
empty on your hospital bed
never saw their final wisp of being float away to seek
their gods, and I choose to believe
they never did