Uncle, a Poem by John Thieme

John Thieme
I watch my nephew’s pimpled kite soar sunwards,
in a weaving, looping, long ambitious arc.
Although it’s heading for the phone wires,
I tell him all is well, no need to worry.
If the string gets snagged, I’ll scale the poles and free it.
I took a climbing course in eastern France.

Tomorrow there’s the crucial match with Chelsea.
He’s heard the pundits say they think we’ll lose.
I quote statistics that show they may be wrong,
and tell him tales of glory in defeat.
He still maintains that winning makes you better.
I say we always live to fight another day.

But yesterday he found out life is not forever.
We held a private funeral in the garden,
a matchstick cross, a jamjar coffin packed with rice.
We prayed that Spudzy will find friends in hamster heaven.
I told my nephew he’ll fly higher than the kite.

Out in the street we see a blackened limo,
heading a string of earthbound mourning cars.
My nephew asks about the meaning of a hearse.
I say it carries people to a fairground
of Ferris wheels that spin forever,
above the wires, the kites, the clouds, the sun.
He asks if Spudzy will enjoy his rides there.
I say I’m sure he will, then keep my counsel.
I wonder when he’ll ask about my sister,
the mother he was much too young to know.