For HMST – 21 September 1996
Now for your birthday the single prunus bough,
by neighbour ’s kindness spared on a sentenced tree
shakes off Spring storms, blossoms in purest white
in bridal joy, luminous, virginal,
dressed for the visiting bee.
I sit in your favourite chair.
If I turned quickly round, would you be there?
What’s given is enough
to keep our compact safe.
On the corner-table you arranged
nothing is changed –
the stack of books, each photo in its frame,
they’re the same;
so without moving, I can count and name
our golden wedding, your mother as a deb,
a bonneted distant forbear; closest, nearest
two figures stepping from the Gothic arch
of a dim, wintry church,
one twinkling, dark, one glowing white –
that’s you and me.
Beyond, the blossoming tree.