Down by the river bank I IMG_0290 see
a life-ring on a line,
and think of how we used to swim
in talk, your hands
in mine,

our arms encircled round your wound,
that never-ending need.
Your life was so unfairly hard,
you felt, and I
agreed.

So when low words rose from your depths
and surged forth, spitting froth,
I let them ooze, I held on tight.
‘We’ll surf these swirls’,
I thought.

And so we went till cancer came,
insisting I should see,
commanding me to cast away.
A knife, it cut
me free.

It showed the ring my thought had made
was twisted as old bone,
that our two hands were not conjoined.
I clutched, alone,
my own.

Down by the river bank I weep
for how we went astray:
the harsh, embittered things you felt
the love they flung 
away,

and my fierce need to go too deep,
the blood and breath I gave
to trying to buoy up a life
that was not mine
to save.

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