Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Elegy on the Things We Never Knew

for my fellow adoptees

Don’t try and keep the past alive: it’s long
since dead. Place a sign around its neck:
Do not resuscitate. Burn photographs
you never had, whose faces you will never see.
Inter home movies which you never watched
in some dark, silent tomb marked Not For Me.
The Christmas cards, the birthday presents, none
of which were bought or sent, the family jokes
you never heard, the memories you never shared,
the holidays you never took, the homes
in which you never slept, the promises
you never made, or tried to keep, or never kept,
the loving words which went unsaid, the absent hands
which never touched a single hair upon
your precious head; and all the things that never were
and all the things that might have been: take them all!
and drown them in the ocean of your grief.

Do not look forward yet: the future is
as unknown as the past you never knew.
Instead, be here. Breathe. Live. Love. Laugh. Don’t stop.


  1. I think the poems that hurt to read must wound a writer. I think acknowledgement of this helps to heal. This poem is brave, it burrows deep to stay, to linger. These are the poems that endure my courageous friend. A beautiful poem Fergus.