Dad understands the beauty of miles clocked
up along the corridors, no more roads
for him, the one who taught the ten to two
of the wheel, the three-point turn,
the one who wants to meet a wall at speed.

They wish he would rest, see what settles
like shapes only lain snow reveals
but motoring his body, eyes dipped under
the feathery confusion is the only way
to steer the vast drifts of reason’s traction.

My cap at an angle meant to cheer
—Take that off. They’ll think you’re weird.
Where have you gone, my dapper, dandy one,
who drove singing that he’d not be worried long?

His mouth trusts anything I offer
but this fierce homeopathy—anxiety
for the anxious—isn’t curing—the white room
painted to look yellowy green, all exits locked
and filmed—will I ever get out of here?

They say the drugs’ diversion will take weeks.
Should I believe them or smuggle him out,
a sack of Foyle mussels over my shoulder,
let him get lost in his own way, a fiction
walking down to the cliff in his dressing gown,
when my back is turned, his point as lucid
as the lighthouse that identifies the pier.

I leave like an accomplice in an ugly greying sleet,
a winter more unknown than any other.
He’s left with no good coat, soft shoes,
head bare—a last leaf on a lawn.

All night I’ve asked should I, could I return
to hold down a pillow over his fallen face
and if the answer lies in our pact to always
do our utmost, in any dicey situation,
to help halt the other’s pain.