He died three months before my thirteenth.
I told her I didn’t want a cake or singing.
The day was hot I spent it lying on a lounger
in the cool shade of the lemon tree.
She was inside making a black forest.
I could hear her cutting layers, straining
cherries, whipping cream; by evening she had
what was left of us assembled in the kitchen.
The candles lit, my frosted name, handwritten.
She stood camera clicking; our eyes on each other.
Like an offering, she held out the knife,
told me to cut it, make myself a wish.
I put it on the table, walked into my bedroom,
listened to the doof of cake, crashing crockery.
I’m smiling in the photo but with fists.
I still sleep on the left side of the bed
and take long walks in woodland with our dog,
we like nowhere better
than that sloping wooden bench
where moss climbs up the legs each winter
and dies back yellow in early summer.
There’s still vodka in the fridge and blue
beneath the scar on my left ankle,
where the door caught me
trying to follow your departure.
Today I hugged someone who felt like you,
it was difficult remembering that sense of safe.
Chimera Lay has been living in County Cork for some time. Her work has appeared in Bare Hands and The Burning Bush 2 and is forthcoming in The Poetry Bus. She can occasionally be found panning for answers in the mountains of the Beara peninsula.