Somewhere in the house a door is closing, and soft footsteps move in the familiar patterns of care. Last night I had that dream in which my mother was alive again, tired but lucid as she ever was. I wanted to ask her what it had been like being dead, whether it had matched her ideas of heaven, but it seemed impolite, or just a bit gauche in the circumstances. While she was alive, I don’t think either of us ever used the word gauche in conversation with each other, though, being Europeans, we could have done with impunity; so when I spoke to her in my dream I didn’t tell her about crumbling unions and rephrased passports. Your great grandmother would have voted for a pig if it had a blue rosette, she once told me, but she wouldn’t have voted for Cameron. When I woke to the sound of a million or more slamming doors, she was dead again, with all its implications, and I thought about my father, far from home, freezing on a pitching deck, also dead but still holding out against a hate that refuses to die.
Sorry wants to know why the rain is burning, why night is brighter than holidays, why the city is a fairground with everyone screaming; Sorry wants to know why bus queues are silent and underground, who that funny man is and why no-one is laughing, where this place is that looks almost like home; Sorry wants to know when it’s bed time, when it’s dinner time, when Daddy will come home; Sorry wants to know why it smells of burnt meat though everyone’s hungry, why no-one likes the fireworks, and why everyone cries when they whisper her name.
Oz Hardwick is a poet, photographer, academic and occasional musician, based in York (UK). He has published six poetry collections, most recently The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (Valley Press, 2017). http://www.ozhardwick.co.uk