Mum was always saying “pipe-down” or “quiet about that” – but my sister and I had a blind spot of affection for him. This distant, and long dead relative that Mum said was a smudge on a line. Billy was his name. A wind-grazed face, rocky as a landscape. Dusty as death. Those eyes dark and set too deep, like floaters in an empty skull. Thin-lipped. The mouth’s all wrong; an artist would never draw a mouth like that. An artist with a kind a heart wouldn’t. And there’s nothing mysterious about his face, a shade timid and silly, perhaps. A misshapen hat that smells sweaty. Greasy, I suppose, and it keeps his ears folded down, makes his ears look larger than an artist would think flattering. I wonder who wept for him when he died. Shot in the head at 21, that’s what I’ve read. And did faith breathe his last prayer, did he strike a truce with God before his cloudless eyes closed. Or did death just cross his face, like a slap, and then there was nothing more of him.
Out in a field
Your struggles absent and still
Where does your heart sleep