Just as I finished writing my blog on 'Endings', I heard the news, belatedly, of the death of a very good friend who I had not seen for almost fifteen years.
On and off over the years I had tried unsuccessfully to make contact with him again. However in recent months, with the help of Facebook, I had been getting closer to re-establishing contact, until this morning when I made 'friends' with one of his relatives and discovered the news.
The news has left me shocked and saddened and full of happy memories together with him and his wife Natividad and their baby boy Benjamin.
Shortly after what turned out to be the last time I saw him, I wrote the following poem.
You, in a cream cotton suit, carefully
coat the chicken in golden breadcrumbs
and lay it in a pan of lightly sizzling oil.
For the third night in a row you’ve gone
straight from work to your father’s,
helping him to operate the oven he’s never
had to open. Now you’re cooking
for me, still a little lost in London,
and wondering what your mother would
want to hear at her funeral tomorrow.
Larkin? Not enough on the side of life.
You’d like Neruda, but decide instead
on some words of your own. Then make
a call to check the booze has been arranged.
That’s it; time to yourself. Outside
we toast out of habit then eat in silence.
Traffic nearby drones as if distant,
muffled by the smoggy pollen-thick air.
Swallows swoop in the man-made sunset,
aim at the roof and disappear on impact.
It must be getting on because the tequila
has burnt down like a candle, worm
like a wick, and the students upstairs have
quit their repartee. I start to make a hash
out of something painfully obvious;
how these are the best and worst of times,
the richest seams; then turn my head to
a jacket on an empty seat. Minutes later
you come puffing out of the darkness,
grinning like a naughty schoolboy,
holding up two big peaches
scrumped from your neighbour’s garden.