This poem was inspired by a white rose left beside someone’s name on the memorial at Ground Zero, New York City.
I remembered you last night again.
The memory struck me hard.
I’d tried with all my soul to say good-bye,
But this memory I could not discard.
It crept up close behind me,
And whispered in my ear.
It caused me to choke and cough in shock,
But the memory had no fear.
It came to me in music last night.
It sailed on the notes of a song.
They’re sneaky things, these memories,
They don’t disappear for long.
The words of the tune lingered behind
In the scratching scream of silence.
And I couldn’t quite notice for all the calm
That surrendered after the violence.
It’s easier to forget things for a day
Than it is to forget them forever.
For memories seem to alight in my dreams
As sweet and as soft as a feather.
So I visited you again today.
I’m sorry I haven’t for a while.
It’s hard to find time to say hello
And to conjure up a smile.
I brought you a gift when I visited you.
No thanks needed, it was only small.
I didn’t really know what you would want,
But I hope you haven’t changed at all.
It’s been such a long time since I last spoke to you,
And now I’ve forgotten your voice.
I tried to repeat it in my mind today,
But it didn’t seem to be my choice.
I asked you if you liked what I’d brought you,
But you didn’t give any reply.
I decided to take your silence as ‘yes’
Instead of you passing me by.
It was a tiny, little flower I’d brought you.
Only one, small and bright white.
You never liked colourful things.
I remembered that; I was right.
I tried to tell you what the rose felt like
Because I thought you would want to know.
And I tried to describe the way it smelt,
But it was a sense I couldn’t quite show.
It smelt a bit like a memory,
Bitter, and harsh, and sweet.
But you never liked how I couldn’t describe
Anything short and neat.
I thought maybe you’d remember as well,
And the flower might make you grin.
Maybe somehow you’d smell the smell,
And you’d understand why I couldn’t begin.
People kept staring at me today.
I think it’s because you never respond.
I sound selfish when I say it’s harder like that
Because no one can see our bond.
I tried so very hard not to cry today,
And I think I did quite well.
I kept a smile on my face throughout our chat
And my eyes, they never fell.
I feel like writing you a letter,
Even if its one you’ll never read.
I don’t want you to forget the shape of my hand
Because to forget would make my heart bleed.
I thought of that when I was visiting today.
I got a pen to write in the rose.
I stared at the petals for ages and more,
But I’ve never been good at prose.
The petals were perfect paper,
Soft and smooth like skin.
They didn’t crumple, didn’t crease,
They stayed perfectly warm and thin.
I couldn’t think of what to write
So I just wrote your name again and again.
I wrote until the white rose turned black
And the ink ran dry in my pen.
I didn’t know whether you’d want the rose anymore,
You never really appreciated mess.
But I left it with you anyway,
Because I could do no more or less.
I tried desperately hard not to touch your name,
But my fingers dragged along the groove.
It always hurts when I touch the letters
Because I can do nothing to stop the move.
We were in the middle of a conversation when you left.
I asked you a question and you never replied.
There were noises crashing, I couldn’t hear your voice,
And then our connection died.
I can’t remember what you looked like
When you last said good-bye.
And that’s what hurts the most and more.
That’s what makes me cry.
I’ll go and see you tomorrow, I swear.
But then again, maybe not.
It took all my strength to visit today,
And I haven’t got a lot.
So I hope you smell our memory
And I hope you read your rose.
I wish I could have written to tell you all I said,
But I’ve never been very good at prose.