My grandmother’s triplets died
in the infancy of everything:
their lives, her love, the summer.
With three dead babies stapled by
death to the fold of her lap,
she watched as the season hazed
blind into a furnace of being
and her mind was surely all
a barrenness of trees,
a winter coat,
a brevity of snowdrops.
Abandoned to seep salty in heat,
she shut her eyes to the light
and crystallised to a stilly half-set wan.
In this grief she judged perfectly
the scale of days stretching
luxuriously into themselves,
death moulded to her form.
That summer meandered the
lengths of loss, she would say,
and set her down hard in everything—
in the hiss of air from kneaded dough,
from an ironed shirt:
the sigh of her heart.
Only October would lend her comfort
in the shrink of winter and light,
the soundless compression of a season
into a size fit for mourning,
with the wind to battle and leak
her back into the arms of permanents:
lamplight, four o’clock dusk,
her winter coat.
She could never abide summer again,
she said, after that one.
Her place in summers would always
be in dimmed corners,
alone with hisses and sighs,
stapled by death into the
fold of dark,
a pattern of shadows
by proxy of the sun.