Inheritance

You left us nothing but your everything
You gave us nothing but your all

no bank account, no savings, just that envelope of drug-money:
enough to pay for a cab to the crematorium, your wicker coffin
and a good old-fashioned piss-up afterwards

microwave / hunting knife / tin opener / wooden spoon

over 40 years of poetry in smoke-stained notebooks

photos of ex-girlfriends / birthdays celebrated / weddings attended / funerals suffered

that ugly glass squirrel statue that I always hated,
that you insisted I must keep after you die so that
“whenever you feel sad, you can look at the ugly squirrel and laugh”

for me: hundreds of books, from Hesse to Marquez to Solzhenitsyn and Proust
to Lee Child and Patricia Cornwell and The Big Book of Dirty Jokes Volume 2

for brother: your watch collection / your guitars / your records, tapes and CDs

morphine / temazepam / lorazepam / zopiclone
all the good ones I swiped before mother swept in and threw the rest away
(she never saw a money-making opportunity like we did)

more notebooks, filled with the profundity of others, in your handwriting

I am angry that you destroyed your journals but I suppose, if I’d read them,
I would probably have begun to believe that I didn’t really know you at all
and that would hurt more than any secret stashed in a suitcase

your denim shirt / your PROPER CORNISH jumper / your old fisherman’s smock

neither of which I dare wear lest your scent disappear from the fibres

an unpaid electricity bill / 12 unsolved crosswords / half a tin of Amber Leaf /
97 packets of Rizla / 5 lighters (2 working, 2 needing fuel, 1 needing a new flint)

no trust fund, but total trust and so much fun

your good books / your good looks / the gifts of our gabs
the depression gene / the grey-hair-in-your-twenties gene
the addictive personality / the too-much-of-a-good-thing tendency
the “you’ve got to laugh or else you’ll cry” mentality

a beautiful black Ibex horn
which fits perfectly in my grip;
which I use to shut my Velux because I’m too short to reach the lock;
which is solid enough to kill a man if I were to smash it against his skull

an address book with personal numbers for celebrities / royalty,
and tycoons / sports stars / writers / actors / politicians

manners & morals / Ps and Qs

your blue Salbutamol inhaler
affectionately named ‘Sally’
that you used 30+ times a day instead of the prescribed 3 max
that I use about 3 times a month when I’m having a really bad attack
your voice in my head saying “Breathe, babes, just breathe,”
I fear the day that this inhaler runs out
and “It’ll all be over soon”

no property / no vehicles / no land / no investments

you were the valuable antique and we were your precious heirlooms
passed down a generation, to be passed on to the next:

the carefully curated wisdom, the ferocity of our love,
our soft-boiled eyes, our way of bearing our bones to those who get close

the (hi)stories, the DNA, the surname

all of the skills / lessons / laughter / memories

no “assets” but we were your biggest asset and you left us us:
your chef-d’œuvre, you magnum opus, your greatest achievement:

you left us
us.


Originally published in Ghost Heart Literary Journal.

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