This is one of the times you won’t remember.
You are lying side by side with your father
as the radio murmurs, a ghost wind shifting
from magnet to magnet that does not
announce its presence. You know you will
never equal the weight of disappointments
that make up his experience of this world
he has gifted you, who are as empty
as radio patter engraving the details
of every current moment, relieved now
the gravity has drained from his hands
for this pause of remission. Early spring
brings bindweed to the untrimmed lawn,
the witnessed suffering of a child’s finger
suddenly dislocated against a misread ball,
the shock of its wrenched angle portending
howling. Seared together within that instant,
you share the endurance race to Emergency
and the hospital report: ‘Father very anxious’.
How callow he is since he stopped learning,
wincing from this memory of his present self.
Opportunity narrows with each anniversary:
the books not opened, pages scarred with
unaccountable marks of temper – astray
in serpentine corridors searching for an exit
that does not exist, always circling back to
the one room you cannot bear to enter.
A gate you have come to know too well
opens, then you leave. This is one
of the times you will not remember.