Miniatures of Loss

Memory, turn the key,
letting the haunting past
return: his father’s face
an alabaster mask
framed in its coffin lace
and he a five-year child
bewildered, unaware,
numb in the grasp of death.

Long thirties’ summers, tents
and makeshift cricket games
in tangled meadows near
the house; stickleback days,
the pond in Farmer Lowe’s
field, all newts and minnows;
cotton-wool clouds puffing
forever across the sky.

Cigarette cards, a vase,
some faded photographs;
such miniatures of loss,
drawn from the bric-à-brac
of time, litter the mind,
drift in a phantom world,
a vanished, unreal country
where only ghosts return.