Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Your death is a red canvas tent

Your death is a red canvas tent in the field below the house. It is small-to-medium sized, meaning: all of us squeeze inside it. This is where we sleep. 

I don’t remember the times before your death, when we slept in normal beds in a normal house. 

When we moved home, your death moved with us as if by a sort of magic. We thought of bringing your death inside but it didn’t suit the furniture.

We potter around the house all day, doing appropriate things. Sometimes we forget about your death, but then we stand too close to the kitchen window. 

I don’t know why we talk of death as absence. Your death is there, outside: the small-to-medium fact of it flapping in the wind, a whiplash of slack guy ropes. 

We carry our sheets and pillows down to your death. My mother brings a hot water-bottle.

Camping is what families do on holidays together, but this is not a camping holiday. There are cricks in our necks, lots of them. Morning crows wake us with their screams. 

But occasionally, on a clear night, we poke our heads out the door of your death and stare at holes in the sky. The white light shining through them.

TOM BAILEY grew up in London and studied Creative Writing at Boston University. He was awarded a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in 2020, and is currently trying to put together his first pamphlet of poems.