Poem: The Unseen by Peter Burrows

The Unseen

Lying in the bath with the door ajar
I hear her voice clear in the next room settling,
Chatting away, sounding out fragments of song,

And, as so often now, I think of you.
Was it like this for you with us? Smiling
Off-stage: from infant to adolescent,

Soft cooing to lofty pronouncements?
What did you think when you were lying there
Absorbing that sudden sentence that floored

Us all. ‘I won’t see his family’, you replied.
What if I’d sat beside you, vague hopes shared,
Names we might’ve chosen you could repeat,

And I’d say how I’d love them like you loved us.
But those first choices would just be empty hints
And would it matter if you saw a future

False, like I search for this dream of a past?
Is there comfort in the touching distance
Of your loss at the first steps of one year,

Her arrival at the end of the next almost
Beside each other like your name within hers,
And our last years striving somehow to connect?

We could have cherished, entrusted in the link
Beyond the given bond of shared blue eyes.
Now a father, I see and feel more like you

Than I ever knew; all you did, in the days,
And nights, the unseen love – the faith to live
Knowing you won’t see the full story with

Those you begin it by. It’s in gestures
We are remembered. How you were with us.
The life given; each gift time brings. The songs

You sang to me – the same songs that she now sings.


This poem was first published by The Cannon’s Mouth, March 2017.


Peter Burrows is a librarian in the North West of England. His poems have most recently appeared in The North, The Interpreter’s House, The Frogmore Papers, The Cannon’s Mouth, Reach Poetry, Dreamcatcher, The Eildon Tree, The Dawn Treader and Riggwelter. Twitter – @Peter_Burrows74


Our JustGiving page is open for donations to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund – no amount is too small if you feel moved to support.

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