I like to think of our spirits dancing

one day, on gravestones side by side—

the moss on them wet and vast,

as if covering time-wounds left before

we were vapour and memory.

Between one sleeping place

and the next, I smell the long tang

of your tobacco. I cannot remember

which brand it was, but I hid your lighter

in the bread bin once

and you said, Don’t play games,

then played hide-and-seek

in the nearby, ageless woodland.

You took me out to the woodshed

stuck out at the back

of the family complex. Gave me an axe

and said, Chop this wood, this

is how it’s done. I got a splinter.

You said, mid-mint-breath,

Don’t cry, want a Tic Tac?

I wish you would say that again,

because I play games alone now

and miss the fabricated scent

of mint. She reenacts hellos and goodbyes

at your bench-side gravesite,

as if you were there, listening.

I am, who at fourteen was hopeful

these obelisks, these Warmian heads

would become one in the epilogue,

but were cut from the plot,

inkblot. A mistake, too many times made

wrecks or warps love’s labour,

but the fruit still holds. The love-

lychee that made me

able to chop that wood,

able to hide your lighter,

able to smell all that death-stick-mint.

We visited your grave today, and dust

flew down from the trees onto it.

Maybe, it was not dust at all,

but little seeds wanting to sprout,

bring life back to the dead,

and we swept them off you,

those splendid seed-stories—

thoughts better kept, all left unsaid.


for Witold, in absentia

Maciej Baltruszewicz is a Polish-born writer. In 2022, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish at the University of Galway, and is currently at work on a first collection of poems. Some of his poetry has appeared in La Piccioletta Barca and Stone of Madness Press. He grew up and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland.