For All Time
for my mother

She unwrapped the chords like a gift,
listened every year on your birthday
and hers, humming
the soft notes of Lady Stardust
even in her sleep.

The pavement was ice cold
as they mummified themselves
in sleeping bags, waiting
for the box office to open
its rusted shutters, palms
eager to hold the golden ticket
that would bring them, You.

In early morning dew, they flicked
through coloured notes,
committed King Lear to memory,
and sung to keep
themselves warm, Heroes
together, just for one day.

In 1985, your songs blasted
through Live Aid, fed back
into her clock radio
where spools of tape spun
endlessly,
the twang of summer
imprinting on black film
for later listening.

With flattops and snakebites,
they crowded upstairs in the Model T,
your zany voice ringing from the juke box
every Friday night,
music mingled with laughter,
black varnish, cigarette smoke.

For Five Years, the walls
of her home shook,
brick reverberating, crumbling,
until skinny jeans
and bleached hair gave way
to a bawling baby, no sleep;
still we listened.

The millennium saw two
little girls sat together,
fine blonde heads bobbing,
singing a lovers’ story
in fluctuating soprano,
years since your song had first
washed over her.

Mid January, Time Square,
a frostbitten start to the year,
a chorus of Londoners sing
to an acoustic instrument,
faces drowned in shoulder blades
and scarves.

They belt out the lyrics,
scream along to Starman
battling to be heard, as one,
pushing their vocal cords
up
to the heavens.

How like you to say goodbye
so obscurely. How
like you to leave us all
in a haze of wondering glory,
throwing your love letter
to the world in a throng of guitar
strings and synthesis.

They named a constellation for you,
a seven point set of stars
in the vicinity of Mars,
a lightning bolt cutting
across the black sky —
for all time.