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)


Still Breathing Sometimes, my love, I watch you sleeping –face softened, unaware.Place my palm against your chest,breathe your breath. Each night, for ten years,I have checked my daughter;waited for the rise, the fall;nudge her when she has her back to me, wait to hear her whimper.Once, she clutched my hand in sleep,as if she’d lost her way,as if she knew I’d catch her falling. And sometimes, as I fallthrough waking into sleepI try to catch that moment,stem the loss, be other than I am. Dad, there’s such a fine lineseparating all of us. Any momentI could cross it, ankle it aside;meet you coming back.    Cathy Grindrod