Dog Walk, Early Morning, Winter

In the cold blue sky of morning the shadow of the moon
hangs, half hidden, like a ghost. She has lost her silver,
she is white and exposed, a flower whose bloom has gone.
As I walk into the dew wet grasses I can imagine perfection,
a procession of pleasures that stretch into an infinite distance.
The trees are stark, black in their winter colours, unattended

by birds or green leaves that feed on the sun's light, the pure
star. Yet such wonders can preoccupy only for moments.
At home the children are sleeping, their dreams filled
with toffees and expected presents, a science of delight
that children practice well. And they, too, carry with them
perfection, their smiles unspoiled by concern, untouched

by that they cannot yet command. And the children
matter more than the moon whose shadow in this morning
sky has become absurd. The trees are reminders of decay,
disturbances that would darken untroubled lives that had meant
to last forever. They are as black as the words you use,
as black as your dissatisfaction.

The house has learned a silence, the lilies in your
mother's vase no longer pleasing, no longer keen
to invite a warmth of attitude that once would
have coloured everything. The photographs
that fill the room have become redundant, a terrible
pretence. Where are you, love, and where am I?

When the children wake and play their laughter
becomes distant, an echo. Your gaze is fixed, intent
on nothing in particular, an affliction my presence worsens.
And what is there to do, what is the remedy?
There is no conversation but an exchange of requests,
courtesies that are spent and weary, a distance

that has become our signature. And the children,
unaware of such deceits, expect sunshine and no surprise.
Who can tell them what has happened, who can tell them
what might be, an ending, a sudden closure?
And now this morning, here, the cold blue sky and the white moon
are wild and stupidly remote.

Everything has happened.

John Cornwall