The phone call came during the meeting.
His brother dead – a suicide.
They hadn’t spoken for five years.
A wife, a daughter, left. I tried
to offer comfort, awkwardly asking
if I could help in any way.
I sensed a complex, buried shame –
paths separated, day by day,
and now the possibility
of reconciling gone for good,
a bitter truth which I could see
he had all too clearly understood.
They say that time can twist in loops:
but not for him – he’ll have to live
with this bleak censure in his past,
perhaps unable to forgive
himself for failures, self-excused
or put down as the other’s fault;
to struggle to prevent the future
being hijacked by this moment, spoilt
by a retrospect with a new meaning
insisting on sorrow, silence, guilt,
that always and everywhere our lives
on lies, and then on loss, are built.
First published in HQ Poetry Magazine, Number 49