I never knew the lonely
by Michael Ardizzone
long dark hours before my father
brought light or warmth into the house
with matches bought from corner shops.
I hadn't felt the lonely
patronage of my father's clean hands,
his calloused and overused hands
that carried my mother's love
(a love that was always burning,
careless and wild but endearing.
A newly lit match.)
The nights were dreams and days
were thunder and the numbing pounding
of rain against unwilling sidewalks
and their brothers, the sloped roofs.
Now, overdressed unknowns wander
a funeral parlor. They cry
(and wonder why they do)
for the calloused old man they knew-
the stiff man who rained and thundered
out of a withdrawn sky.
They wonder how such a man
could have so many mourners.
They could not remember the long dark hours
where fires-unquenched by rain,
unextinguished by wind-
so long had burned, unwitnessed.