Drown

by David Penhale

The night you left was lit by lightning.
Bang on cue, it struck the tower
as you gunned the engine and roared away.

Later, torrents flooded the valley,
sign-posts drowned, roads submerged.
That night much was laid low.

The day dawned haggard, bleary with longing.
I tried to conjure up your face,
my eyes half-open to the chance return.

Thick in oil-skins, ready for a drenching,
I checked on tiles torn free from their mooring,
fences blown out to sea, beyond Lundy.

Wading through sludge to re-coop the hens,
I could only stare at the stricken trees
wave across the mirror of fields.

All this was such a long time ago.

The waters receded, wriggled under ground,
culverts cleared and streams dried up.
Over the weeks the yard became concrete.

The old kitchen range gave up the ghost,
(like you always said it would),
and the generator’s crank sounds worse by the day.

The cracked cistern is totally knackered,
so I use the privy at the bottom of the garden
and double-dig the potato-patch.

Each night I write by candle-light, conserving oil,
and indiscriminately empty the bottles,
down to your last Lagavulin.

Each morning a penitential stretch,
parched and stumbling down to the well,
your absence a hang-over I cannot walk off.

Dry-eyed, I lean on the broken windlass,
drown in air like water.