Still Breathing

Flowers for my Father


I will grow ivy round your tombstone,

green, glossy, deep dark as ink –

lovestone, bindwood, to obscure your dates,

your name, creep its trembling feelers

round your coffin, forge nerve pathways,

root twitching tendrils in your earth.

May it find you, unrelenting; clamp your limbs,

grip you in its stranglehold the way

in those last months you clung and clung.


I will plant snowdrops on your grave;

milk-flowers, fair maids for February.

With bare thumbs, I will push

those wrinkled bulbs inside the earth,

indent your forehead, press your face

beneath my fingernails – wound herbs

from ancient monasteries to ease

your bruise, your poor septic finger –

deathflowers to bring you friendship.


I will pick snowdrops from your grave,

flowers spread from the food of your bones.

A bowl for our house will purify.

I will bring inside these corpses

in their shrouds, unlucky charms,

hang the first shoots of the year

upon my bedhead. I shall be Eve,

leaving Eden, the angel turning snowflakes

into flowers for Spring, to comfort me.




Cathy Grindrod

(also pub Lancaster LitFest Competition Winners Anthology, 2006)