inspired in a sleazy snackbar

Death comes to us all, Sarah.
Even young Chloë must die.
And I, poor worm, who only try
to make myself understood
must walk alone, gnawing a bone,
through that dark wood.

Maria – will it be eighty-five
or ninety? Now she’s kicking and alive,
passing untouched through airports,
escaping the hooves of chariot horses;
even her hands will surrender to forces
more powerful than patchwork and cooking,

more unforgivable than the fate of flowers.
I’ll probably bury my wife in the garden,
after hours. Maria Callas snuffed it too,
long before the last hectic aria was through.
Chloë, so promising, so damn good looking,
may be my only hope of salvation today –

Maria is away in Connemara.
Though she hasn’t yet planned her first book
and won’t be adult for another seven years
(God save her from Oxford), Sarah, dry your tears
and go back to Grantham with my address.
If ever you both need help, the answer is Yes!

To Sarah and Chloë Higgs,
visiting Bruges 29 November 15.