allison mcvety | finlandia
Poetry Ribbon


What I know about death is Sibelius
on the high-fidelity music centre, dad
listening in the dark, gas off, still
in his wind cheater with corduroy trim;
Sibelius so high it distorts the angles of the day;
Sibelius until the street light’s eye
is replaced by a cold sun’s watch,
by which time my dad has remade my mother
into a living woman, so that we are
not driving the three hundred miles north –
through a slurry of questions with two dogs,
no answers and the wrong clothes for the weather –
just to be with him, and, my sisters similarly,
are not made small again by her absence –
not lost on a day out in Cleethorpes,
waiting at school gates or serving endless
PG Tips and fig biscuits that no one’s
going to touch; no, my dad plays Sibelius
with the windows wide, so unfathomably loud
that the neighbours hear it the length of the street;
unaware of this remaking of the day’s events
they don’t hammer the walls with their shoes
or come to the door to reason or try even
to blot it out with Nat King Cole,
Deanna Durban or Manuel’s Music of the Mountains,
instead they listen, mourn in their living rooms,
perhaps with a small port or Mackeson’s,
so that Coronation Street, The Bill,
News at Ten, all have this soundtrack
behind them . . . and across town
in Arthur Gresty’s chapel, my mother
might also feel the thud, her blue lips
warming, parting, and for a moment
breathing again; so what I know is the strength
of my mother’s love, the volume of my father’s.

Published in Poetry London