The Haunting

Douglas W. Gray

He has stared by the window for years,
to a summer when our days were full of war...

We sat on grey upholstered decks, a boy
of eight with lemonade and 'Gunner'
sipping tea, limping from the Murmansk run,
sprays of breath at Arctic ice
while U-boats kill his mates. I live

for his August plums, a sunshine taste
of silk, and feeding off those merchant navy tales.
We skim the cream, preserve the crop.

Winter scuttles the leaves
and he turns strange by the fire,
burning cards and photographs,
a sigh, a sob, a name, handing me his face
within a frame. What was left to say?

I pray to God and Jesus walking home.
They find him propped against the tree.
The garden grows and grows...

There's conflict in his eyes, big as harvest moons,
ghosting through the fallen fruit; so the story goes.