Paul Stephenson

I tell him about the people

who’ve been in touch, about 
his parents, my mother and Tom,
the friends we’ve not seen in years,
the ones we spent good times with,
drinking, laughing, gallivanting. 

I want him to hear how we’ve been 
in contact, keen for him to know
they’re all thinking of him. I need him 
to learn the long list of our life, 
one by one, all those who love him.

In a hushed tone, speaking softly, 
sorry for my silly embarrassment, 
paranoid in case someone’s there
– a mortuary worker listening 
from behind the curtain backdrop,

I stand in the low-ceilinged room,
forcing myself, trying to keep it casual,
mustering words, a makeshift list
to fill the quiet. I run out of names,
must resort to love and apologies.

Paul Stephenson has three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). / twitter / instagram.