The phone call came during the meeting.

His brother dead – a suicide.

They hadn’t spoken for five years.

A wife, a daughter, left. I tried


to offer comfort, awkwardly asking

if I could help in any way.

I sensed a complex, buried shame –

paths separated, day by day,


and now the possibility

of reconciling gone for good,

a bitter truth which I could see

he had all too clearly understood.


They say that time can twist in loops:

but not for him – he’ll have to live

with this bleak censure in his past,

perhaps unable to forgive


himself for failures, self-excused

or put down as the other’s fault;

to struggle to prevent the future

being hijacked by this moment, spoilt


by a retrospect with a new meaning

insisting on sorrow, silence, guilt,

that always and everywhere our lives

on lies, and then on loss, are built.

First published in HQ Poetry Magazine, Number 49