He had buried strange things
in that great drooping Mexican moustache.
There were the lines, two from Saint Luke
five from Frank Zappa,
inscribed on tiny scrolls
rolled-up inside a wren’s hollow bone
and somewhere near the corner of his mouth
bleached seahorse ribs
strummed with selenic whispers
and a plectrum of green ship’s glass.

First and only rebellion against a father
who knew a bloody gimmick
when he saw one
the Zapata had been there right under his nose
for the best part of forty years.
She had liked it from the start
thinking that first winter
it made him look like
Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago
and during the long laudanum summer
a badass cowboy kicking up dust in Dodge.

Settling soon after his appointment
to a grammar school where that pelmet of hair
was quietly at odds with the navy suits
and brown brogues
he wore weighing words like emeralds
each and every morning assembly.
For some a mask hiding scars or jutting chin
his shielding nothing behind
rather a holding within.

Exposed in white astringent light
after cerebral vascular accident swept him
down long corridors in a centre of excellence
to his very own primary nurse.
With reports and care plans correlated
and risk assessments all updated
what could he say when she asked to shave
his food-blotted stache?
Six weeks to the day since a left-sided stroke
what could he say what could he say?