It is a long time ago since we borrowed

the row-boat, pushed off from the slipway,

jumped onto the cross-board.


I remember the dip and pull of the oars,

your arm muscles flexing each time you leaned

forward to carry us across the lake.


Together we dragged the boat onto the island bank

scouted for a sitting place under a tree –

its trunk wide enough for both our backs.


On that summer’s evening, nestled together,

we listened to the water and the birdsong,

without a word between us.


Your young arm around my shoulder -

a sixteen-year-old

who knew how to holdmy loss.


There was no birdsong, no rustle of trees

in the graveyard, only the thud of my mother’s coffin

touching stone, when the men let go.


Now, Charon has carried you across the Styx.

You have paid the price,

leaned into the place unknown,


where there are no words,

where my arm cannot reach

to comfort you, my friend.