Day 3 of NaPoWriMo – the prompt to write a elegy, focusing on a particular quality of the subject. I knew death would come up. This poem doesn’t even begin to do justice to Stacey. I have written so many lines and bits and bobs and nothing even scratches the surface about how I feel/who she really was. But I suppose we should start somewhere so here:
I have already written a eulogy for you
said everything I was expected to, knees
jamming together for stability, read
dutifully a family-friendly version of you
because I knew that’s what you would’ve wanted.
This piece, that I had been maturing in the space
between my bottom lip and front teeth
since year 8 when you told me
you’re lungs were faulty
was for everyone looking in on us.
Things I left out:
you sucked your thumb all your life,
whilst you were thinking deeply,
when you were watching TV.
You did when I tried to get you
to tell me your secrets.
I wrote you letters, read them to you on the phone
because I was too impatient to post them.
You sucked your thumb whilst I
fiddled with the label in my school jumper
watching healthier, popular kids scramble
for teacher’s approval on a dried out playing field.
I don’t know why I tried to keep you tucked into me
so close, so far from everyone else
my trust issues alienated you
you made me feel alive and safe
and I just wanted to spend my life
spilling out my secrets to you
like the only children we were once.
You sucked your thumb until you got that scarf
thin and limp –
you ran that indigo dyed cloth through your fingers
and laboured it around with you in
the wheelchair you despised
watching healthier, vibrant people watching you.
You had it next to you on the bed in December
left it crumpled in your hospital sheets
to stand and hug me
if I had stayed a few more hours –
made you spill your secrets
I might have a comfort to lace you into.