Excerpt from The Grammar of Distance, “Music of a Walk Through Leaves”

Music of a Walk Through Leaves

We’d walk home from school through fallen leaves,
hand in hand, the girl whose family owned the dairy.
She took piano lessons and sang in the choir.
She could raise a spring day with her song.
Sing the losses in me. Re-tune the world.

Since stepping ashore from the ship that
sometimes fuelled my dwindling dreams,
carrying my diminished life in a backpack,
providing my own running commentary to fill the silence,
I’ve revisited our walk over the years since she left,
trying to find the music of those leaves.
No trace, a random arrangement of notes.

Picture a grown man on leave from his senses,
testing his iron will, the thrust of his hands
through dead duff. Off in the harbour distance,
beyond arm’s length, the ship’s blasting horn,
if you see what I mean.