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C C Canning

Novelist - Screenwriter

Words I failed to speak

When you, golden,

Turned shining eyes towards the gatekeeper's scowl

That habitually guards my face

And held out your hand, asking to be led, and I

Fearing failure slipped on the ring and looked away,

The key to my secret room safely in my pocket

Then, unprotected by prior maternity,

Or the guardian solace of accompanying sisterhood,

When you felt your life being forced aside

By a growth erupting within you clamouring for primacy

I, unable to imagine flesh succouring flesh,

Feeding it with a life intended to replace your own,

Jealously retreated

Not realising that in the first hour of sleep

Your demons come to haunt you, sneering at the ease

With which unconscious neglect has left you unaided

In the treatment of hidden scars that suppurate still

In the moments when your life's fire goes un-fanned

And you reach in vain for warmth

So, coming as we did, to places we had found separately


We failed to speak of the fear of being alone

And of our anger that such fear was not being driven back

By words which could so easily be spoken,

Walls of words more comforting than

The palisades of self-inflicted pain that separate

Those who fail to speak

Then, did you not know that I had a secret plan?

To keep you alive: to hold onto you on the dark nights

When life seeks to slip away and

The God-questions go unanswered?

A secret plan that I and you had both forgotten because I failed to speak,

And how were you to know when words were left unspoken?

It’s silence that kills us

After I’m gone there will be nothing you can say

Speak to me now and speak to me every day

We don’t exist in words alone

But we don’t exist without them

If we speak now you won’t resent me when I’m gone

But if we don’t speak now you’ll resent me

For not being there before I was gone

It’s silence that kills us

Not words that are the curse

One Day

before you were born

out of the sunlight between the cracks

that separated clouds skidding

uncontrollably across the tense tight landscape

of misdirected blame

one man and

one woman reached an agreement

to bring you to life,

never having met you

You were imagined that day

as the ewe imagines its lamb

and runs back along the snow blind fence line

bleating in pain

to offer its frozen teat

You were imagined so well

that as you entered the world

the familiarity of your face

attitude and smell

closed out the possibility of ever

knowing anyone else so well again

Look now at what one day can do

That day was you

By the light of a tea candle

When the world is dark

And darkness hides despair

Light is like a lancet

That punctures the heart and voids the soul

So hope becomes a mockery

How extraordinary then that you

Would light a tea candle

And lay your gypsy head

On my broken body

And stem my bleeding heart

With the soothing sound of breathing

Till sadness turned to wonderment

At your beauty

At my love

At you

By the light of a tea candle