this is the arm that held you
this is the hand that cradled your cold feet
these are the ears that heard you
whimper and cough throughout your brush with light
this is the chest that warmed you
these are the eyes that caught your glimpse of life
this is the man you fathered —
his voided love, his writhen pride and grief
On Friday just past, Aidan Michael Philip would have been four years old. Four years crammed with pain, despair and — yes — joy. Four years with the contrast on life turned up to the max (or as near it as makes no difference). Yes, life moves on from those early days when the grief and pain were utterly, constantly overwhelming. But it emphatically does not go back to normal and there will always be occasions when, expectedly or unexpectedly, something brings the grief shuddering back.
I ask myself why I feel the need to say something in a public space like this, or on my Facebook profile, as I have done this week. I suppose it’s partly because Aidan will never have the chance to make his own voice heard in public and partly because such grief is otherwise largely hidden. The same impulses that led me to publish the poems about Aidan that appear in The Ambulance Box.
This week, obituaries appeared for the Welsh poet Dic Jones, who died in August. He, too, was a bereaved father. A while back, working from Tony Conran’s translation, I wrote a Scots version of his heartbreaking poem “Lamentation”. If you’re on Facebook, you can read it in this note.
Connections like that are often a lifeline for bereaved parents. Indeed, James Reiss‘s elegies for his baby son were one of the things that drew me to Salt. We’ve been privileged to meet some dear friends through losing Aidan, people we wouldn’t want to be without, and several already dear friends became even dearer.
Yet what wouldn’t we give to have him here with us?