The Great Escape

by Ally ThompsonThe dead aren’t coming back
how many levels to this revelation?
over time like falling leaves
the waves of the symphony of loss
impress upon us unexpected fragments:
the sound of their voices saying our name
their laughter and simple kindnesses
the undeserved reverence they held for us
a love and belief we must try to live up to
then deeper: the moments they spent alone
in despair swigging whisky in a curtained room
while mice and flies gnawed at
the fraying corners of their collapsing consciousness
layer upon layer of forgotten drawings hidden
suppressed, never shown to anyone
among yellowing 1970’s newspapers
where you find at last a haunting self-portrait
of the troubled young man you remember
leaving his last day at secondary school
one glowing summer before the shadows
began their life-long progress creeping
like a maggot in an apple inward to the brain
you look up startled to see from the bedroom window
some other young man dawdling by loved by his mother
unaware of how a world waits to consume us all…
at last we’re nearly there now, the final veil
is lifting, the features of beauty’s lost face recovered:
the dead aren’t coming back but we
while they stand still, are moving closer.

(picture inset: The Great Escape by Ally Thompson 1955-2016)

 

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