The lines "In the night garden, light is a swallowed cry" are from the poem "Night Garden" in the collection Skin Divers, © Anne Michaels, 1999, which I had been reading the week that I went to a Canadian Forces workshop on the experiences of a  wounded sniper..



Beside his band of brothers,

who could penetrate his solitary shroud of sadness?

It breathes with him,

like a palpable, living thing,

with each inhale and exhale of his breath.

Who will sit with him

as he struggles to be,


in this moment?

In this place?

His father's shoulders shudder -

generations of unspoken grief.

A friend's hand reaches out, 

a fleeting moment, grounding, private.

I am here.

I am with you.

I will not be left behind.


But still the shroud thickens and fills the room

a welling grief, thick like August air.


We breathe him in.

And, as David stands, 

carrying the weight of wounds I cannot see,

I am reminded of the poet who said:

"In the night garden light is a swallowed cry."

Fiona Mackintosh (© May 19, 2012)

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