Because the tree has gone, there is a flood
of light across the floor, there is a view
of roofs and backyard fences shouldering
the weight of whose-is-whose. Because
the tree’s been taken while I wasn’t there –
there was no chainsaw screech, no fluster
and coo of tetchy pigeon, no easy rhyme for
one for sorrow – the tree’s a gap, a lost tooth,
a solitaire unstuck from its old gold claws.
Because the bedroom’s lost its summer
flicker, its winter scratch, is soaked in
daylight/streetlight, unstoppable by drape
or slatted blind. Because there is no memory
of the tree’s going, I cannot, will not sleep.
After she died we stripped the bed,
shook out the sheets and they fell
like rice at an old-fashioned wedding.
They cornered her dressing-gown
pockets – never a core or a stalk –
nothing but apple pips, dulled by
the dark, still holding their centres,
their flavour of almond, of cyanide.
And when we readied the body,
washed what was left of the woman
she’d been, we picked out brown seeds
from between her toes, from under
the claw of her curled toes, and one,
flattened, split to its ivory heart,
stuck fast to the sole of her left foot.
Susan Utting is based in Berkshire and is the author of several poetry collections. Her website is at http://susanutting.co.uk