if we could die
after all this we might
for a last time
hard to believe it
what we might
before we had finished
any one thing
of lasting benefit
emptying out like
everybody filing toward
the indrawn breath
odd lights still on
nothing left to do
to be done
to be done to —
‘And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good –
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?’
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
I have spent all morning
going through his things.
There isn’t much worth keeping:
a few certificates, his dog-eared Pirsig,
this picture of us both, taken the day
he knocked my teeth down my throat.
I recall the walk to the hospital,
alone in the dark, my tongue flinching
as it made a map of the new space,
and then it went still.
It was in that moment
I realised I had a soul.
It was wrapped in tissue paper in my pocket,
and it wanted to be numbed very bad.
I put it beside me on the chair
in the waiting room.
He arrived and sat one spot along.
It lay between us like a secret.
And when they called my name -
amid the smell of antiseptic,
the drill’s whine - the doctor joked
the soul didn’t want to go back in.
You can see it in this photo
how the teeth healed. The way each root
slipped back into the gap it’d left.
It was only over time
a single tooth turned grey,
and started to drift gently
away from the rest.
Jamie Cameron is a poet from the Midlands, currently studying for a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. Away from writing he spends most of his time playing or coaching basketball."