In the time before, there was May, in bloom,
Parts of April, parts of June,
As if a wand had been waved over a canvas,
Seventeenth century, Flemish,
Turning burnt umber background to lapis lazuli sky,
Tulips, lilacs, roses in suburban gardens,
Lawns with daisies strewn.
In the time before there was love and irritation,
There was 'do your homework, tidy your room'.
There were your clothes folded neatly,
Which you would wear again,
Little worries about your education.
There were photographs that did not make me cry,
Of you, in blue checked romper suit,
Golden curls, apple cheeks, laughing eyes, not camera shy.
In the time afterwards there is May,
Whose beauty I will never love again.
There will be June and the thought of your not seeing it,
Other people's children pouring out of school,
And your not being amongst them,
And the great tight pain in my chest as I try
And fail to stop this sob becoming this great primeval wail.