that “eternity” inscribed with both their names is
his surety that they be together “later”.
I signed for the parcelled clothing as the son,
the cardy, apron, pants, bra, dress –
The clerk phoned down 6-8-8-3-1?
Has she still her ring on? (slight pause) yes!
It’s on my warm palm now, your burnished ring!
I feel your ashes, head, arms, breasts, womb, legs
sift through its circle slowly, like that thing
you used to let me watch to time the eggs.
“Timer” is from the 1981 collection The school of Eloquence – exploring the poets relationship with his parents focussing on the wedding ring that would not burn and the emotions it prompts ending with a moment of gentle intimacy.
Tony Harrison is a Yorkshire born poet, playwright and translator. As well as versions of Greek tragedies such as “Oresteia” he has written and published several volumes of verse often with the Newcastle based Bloodaxe Books.