Over 40 years
at the cutting edge
of poetry publishing
[Twitter] [rss feed] [Facebook]

Brian Johnstone, from The Book of Belongings

The Book of Belongings

The book of belongings of those found dead
lies open across my lap. I cradle it and look and look,
not knowing what I must find, half hoping to recognise nothing.

Photograph after photograph, page after page
of someone's jacket, trousers, shirt: I'm searching the fabric
for stitches my hand has known, for threads my thumb has pulled.

This book is heavy with more than belongings:
with gestures an arm has left in a sleeve,
with breath filling the breast of a shirt.

I place a plate on a table surrounded by empty chairs.
Each speaks to me in the voice of a husband, a son.
Those found dead are a handful. I sweep away the crumbs.