This is the Afterlife

by Alan Hill —

For My Father

You are dying now but we will always have the afterlife
what I have made for you, that I offer as gift.

It is here now, if you care to join me.

Open this book, pop it up in folded card
in the look up from a valley bottom
into tangle of car lights through trees on the top road.

One of those cars is you coming home
in the escape from another work day disappointment, the office
to your consolation children.

Off course, we may have been that disappointment
yet in your diplomacy, never let us know
not then, when we were still young.

Here, in this rest that I offer you
it is always a November evening, just after rain.

There is a house set back, pasted against open fields
the garden you made, hidden now until spring

then a drop, a river valley, an alluvial aloneness
a blackness, tidal in his completeness
the night long shake of unseen freight trains.

No place is ever really us.
We are awkward, too city, too proud to belong.

This is the nearest we will get, amalgamated, invented
in the outline of mountain tops, the pull of never visited peaks
stain of crayon, marker

in an estuary with an open fist
offer of bloody palm, unsigned paperwork

the cracked spine of this discarded book
that I never did quite finish
that has its pages laid open to the ocean.

Alan HillAlan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster, Canada. He has been published in over forty literary magazines and periodicals across Europe and North America. He originates form the west of England. He came to live in Canada after meeting his Vietnamese-Canadian wife while working in Botswana.