Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Memory

A boy rapt in his play darted
In some game for the high-hearted
From a gate, fairly impaling himself                            
On the headlands of my sharp knees.
Like wind-bounced bees                                            
He dodged the obstacle and ran
On to glory, giving no thought
To the old man wheezing in poorly health                  
In his way: so with boys since time began.

And so fifty-plus years ago                                        
On holiday: my eyes aglow
In a comic, I fumbled for the hand
Of someone, thinking him my father –
In fact a stranger;
Startled, I hurried to my father,                       
Regarding him whose hand I sought
Not as a person but some faceless brigand,
Forgotten in an instant with a shiver.

But those forgotten are persons
Indeed – subject to death, its lessons
Toughly-taught. Twelve years later my father
Lay dying in his death rattle,                                  
His fraught battle                                                        
For breath defeated; surely that                  
Holiday stranger also fought
And lost. And I, held fast by death the lover,             
Whose hand shall I seek in my final combat?

© May 2013

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