Joanne Key

Boy

A drowned boy drifts
into my living room.
He’s here now by the fire.

I roll him onto his side,
recovery position,
turn the heat up,

try to warm him.
At night, he opens
the door on the sea,

darkness floods in,
down the chimney,
through open windows.

It follows me
upstairs, laps
at my ankles, rises.

The boy stands
by the side of my bed,
dead eyes

watching for nightfall,
waiting for the raft
of the moon

to coast over black water.
He waits to catch
the tail-end of a wave,

the boat of a dream
that will carry us both
into another world,

into warm arms,
family,
wings and flight.

Before I turn out the light,
he smiles,
hugs me goodbye.

The last thing I hear
is a foghorn drowning-out
voices as they ring

in the distance.
I toss names
into the mist like coins,

wait for a return,
some note of change,
a measure of depth.

Nothing comes back.
In the morning,
footprints appear again

in the hallway:
little islands
of cold, hard light.

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