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