A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide
She is awake.
The moon is bright and the clouds have parted.
The trees are painted trees, living a still life.
She tells me my brother is in the moon.
I’ve bathed her, given her milk
and as I fold the sheets from her knees
to her lap, she asks me how he died.
‘He was very sad’ I say
and she seems to understand.
She rubs the milk away from her lips with her hands
as if the moon had kissed her
and then asks why.
I try to explain.
‘Sadness can make you very tired.
It can make you want to sleep.
It can make you want to close your eyes on everything.’
Her hands are like two leaves
resting on the bedcovers. She asks me if I miss him
and when I say I do
her eyes go big and round
and she asks me again, how he died
if the sadness of missing him
will make me die.
I hold her then, I accept
the weight of her. I can feel her widening like the stillness of a tree –
my child, coming into a still life…
Then we talk about the moon being
the shape of an egg, upside down.
We watch branches touch on drifting clouds
and agree – we want to see everything.
We stay up half the night finding patterns on the walls.
Different kinds of windows.
Helen Calcutt is the author of two books of poetry, Sudden rainfall (Perdika, 2014) a PBS Choice, and Unable Mother published by V.Press in September 2018. Her writing is published internationally, including award-winning essays and reviews for The Wales Arts Review, The Brooklyn Review, The London Review, Poetry Scotland and Boundless. She is creator and editor of Eighty-Four a poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide. Website: https://helencalcutt.org/