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 agoOn 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 personsIndeed – 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