by Patrick Dillon

Once upon a time when yellow hens
laid purple eggs, not long before she touched
the car and went off into the photograph.
high above the poultry sodden straw
my sister crawls before me on the beam.
I will remember this
the chill of a fool’s danger.  We’d got it wrong.
Space and things that should have been in front
of us had slipped and swung below.
The air pranced.
Death looked on.

I will remember this.
My part in the clamour of rotten duck eggs.
Not her voice, not her face
but the sandals and her smiling calves
the squares of thread raised rough and white on beige
and that she spoke to me
turned and told me something never to forget
long ago
when playful plastic hens dropped eggs like answers.

God takes the best for himself they said.
I was left with the rest.
With alphabets and joined up letters
with elders and their tattered tales
of war and Devon Tuttle.
Their titled toes
the flippant tails, the waltzing ways
of sweats and quitters.
With dogs and cats and ponies to love.
Between the lines the slamming grey of car doors.
My toes itched.

How did a girl become a word, her name
a prayer falling like a key into the dark?
We all knew where her sandals were, stuck
upstairs in the hush of the cupboard
in the mouthing silence, waiting in
plastic for her stubborn broken beads.