Quartet

1. The Intruder

I saw my father lying on the bed
and did not know him.

Not for me the intimacy of death,
more of a mild surprise really,
to find someone so thoroughly asleep
and feel like an intruder.

And when I heard their howls behind the screen,
it puzzled me. You see,
I longed to get away
and drive somewhere.

Much later, when they said it would take time,
I didn’t quite believe them.
I still don’t.

2. The Prowler

I heard my father tapping on the glass
as I slept one night upon the ruined sofa,
weeping again the King my father’s wreck,
as if to tell me something I’d forgotten,
like ‘Never give up’, ‘Always do your best’,
or ‘Don’t heed the hurtful things
the Queen hath said.’

Or had he just come back to say
I’d messed up big time
and if I’d listened to him in the first place,
none of this would have happened?

Parents, eh. Who needs them?

And for how long?

3. Plums

I watched my father stooping on the path
to pick up all the rotten plums that fell
and made the old dog fart
before the fire.

I took him to the place I used to dwell,
showed him all four corners of the forest,
took him to the shed that we might lunch
among the cobwebs and old tins of paint.

I tried to tell him where I had gone wrong,
tried, while breaking bread upon my knee,
to tell him he’d been right,
right all along.

He smiled, while brushing down some fallen crumbs,
and said he must get back to clear the plums.

Now as the day recedes into the past,
I watch my father stooping on the path.

4. The Ash Grove

The red house in the field,
over valley,
in the wheel of hill,
that goes forever rolling on,
will be there in the morning,
and will be there in the evening,
but my father has gone west
in clouds of ashes.

We tossed him through our fingers
in a circle on a hill
like campers shaking out
a morning sheet.

And we left him all in pieces
in a circle by some trees,
now my father has gone west
in clouds of ashes.

7 thoughts on “Quartet

      1. I remember feeling numb and unable to express my grief except through the medium of poetry. Poetry, elegy, can be intensely personal but draw on something impersonal and universal. I think this can be liberating and cathartic. Certainly helped me. I guess that’s why we do it.

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