Housedust

An old friend sent me a book of poetry after M died entitled ‘Staying Alive’ (ed: Neil Astley). I would recommend it for anyone who is on this, or any similar journey. Further to yesterday’s post about the search for M’s DNA, I found the short poem below which gave me some reassurance that I wasn’t going completely barking. Whilst the poet doesn’t mention looking for errant pubic hairs (clearly that’s just me), she describes the comfort to be found in the minutiae far better than I could.

            Four Years

The smell of him went soon

from all his shirts.

I sent them for jumble,

and the sweaters and suits.

The shoes

held more of him; he was printed

into his shoes. I did not burn

or throw or give them away.

Time has denatured them now.

Nothing left.

There will never be

a hair of his in a comb.

But I want to believe that in the shifting housedust

minute presences still drift:

an eyelash,

a hard crescent cut from a fingernail,

that sometimes

between the folds of a curtain

or the covers of a book

I touch

a flake of his skin.

Pamela Gillilan

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