The night before your sons’ birthday


Monday evening, and Jackie on Facebook

is asking what’s happening.

It’s a big day tomorrow

and too late for talking.


I draw the blinds against the light,

another night of heat

and broken sleep; 

on the hills, the owls are hunting.


The dogs will not stop barking.

It is already hot by dawn

and Jackie is marked as safe on my phone.

For one minute, I don’t know


from what. 

It was not a balloon.

And today and its sunlight change

forever. The bridge they hid under,


the size of the city 

they ran into


the places where parents wait.


Sam is crying, Helen is sick.

I can’t go to work

but there’s presents to wrap

and playlists to make.


There will always be music

and kids who love hamsters;

small creatures

we need to protect.


What a time of year to be born

and die in –

the summer had barely begun,

the trees were so green


and the sun was so bright.

There’s too much light today

and I can’t stand it.

Even the blinds won’t keep it out.


Clare Shaw is our poet in residence for the congress. She will be posting a poem each month, and will join us live during the congress. To find out more about Clare and read more of her poetry, go to our congress pages: Congress 2018


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