The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living*

I replace the phone,
walk down the hall to put washing on
turn the computer off
fill my car at the petrol station.
Everything somehow seems hollow
sunlight less bright
In the car, I’ll miss a right-hand turn
lost suddenly in the absolute red of a suburban garden rose.

In my mind I hear them screaming for you
Throwing futile ropes
Leaping boulders, tree trunks slippery with moss
The air is full of the rush and roar of the rapid
as you go over and under, I can’t picture your face
beneath the bright helmet, arms braced
against the white foam onslaught.

Or maybe it was peaceful
trapped against logs that became your cage door
shut, as the river pours through you.

I call friends and between us useless words
hang like overripe fruit.
In the privacy of the shower
as the water runs,
I stop and think
how the love of water took you to your grave.
Trapped in the still blue, like
Damien Hirst’s great powerful beast
hung motionless
all your vigor, youth, potency, gone.
You are a still life in my mind now
your death, unknowable, acknowledged.

for Leon (1980-2010)

(*with thanks to Damien Hirst)

Siobhan De Little