Only the Smallest Hours

Carol Stewart


I fear for my children flying, imagine

terror attacks, engines failing,

somber-voiced newscasters reporting

ever-increasing death tolls,

the hunt for missing body parts.


Not dead! Plane didn’t crash!


My daughter’s text.


Dead thuds as it would at the end of a line.

Dead belongs at the end; I do not want it to.


Death should be played on vinyl


This One Last Wild Waltz from Too-Rye-Aye

and back to the start


where I hold myself over the font,

where I dare attend my ownfuneral.


Excuse me please, you’re standing in my space

right through to the final track.


But stop!


This is the tune that everyone knows,

the one they sing along to.

It doesn’t belong on this record!


Allow me the space in between,

the silence to read my own eulogy,

reincarnate myself as a tree

rooted into my grave to know

my descendants


passing by

passing under




My white-cloaked friend looks shiny

in her depression,

does not envy the trees

their longevity,

their yearly rejuvenation.


Everything passes, she says.


If you see a gorilla’s face in a magazine,

rip out the page!


She doesn’t have children,

grandchildren tumbling,

autumnal views on the other side of the fence

and a garden too green in November,

roses in bloom with the rain pissing down


a neighbour’s shrub the colour of menstruation,

wood-stain to preserve


her boundaries,

too dark to be seen at this hour, I fear


how she sleeps!


how they all sleep, or try.


Carol Stewart is a mother and grandmother living in the Scottish Borders. A former freelance editor, she has recently had poems published in 404 Ink, That (Literary Review) and Abstract (Contemporary Expressions).