for Father’s Day
That used to be the only place where
I would lose control.
Into the scalding water, gave what fight my little soul could.
Would sit there
Till my burning body froze.
Trying my best to hold on
To who I was, the last face that you saw.
Over the years, it‘s drained away till
All that’s left is sadness for that
Little angry eighteen-year old.
Forcing his blunt heart between blue school-copy lines,
Realising he‘s not been listening for a long time.
Fighting, shaking silently in a grubby corporation bath.
I was embarrassed as you stripped off.
Not to see you naked, understand
It was just how you were still perfect, man after my own heart.
Sitting there where you had once washed your little son,
Sang him songs making the bath reverberate
With our laughter. I felt like somehow I had won
Something at your expense. That you were too sick now to help yourself.
That somehow this was the day when you knew
Your fight was over, made me promise I would keep
My eyes open as you went home.
They don’t include rules for this.
No Father‘s Day card verses in their mid-life supermarket tragedies.
When he’s carrying you on his shoulders, they don’t tell you soon son
You’ll be washing your living God like he’s your child,
Having to see your hero dying on his knees.
You must have seen it in my eyes because you winked at me.
And at that unguarded second my heart caught fire
With the pride of generations, Christ
I felt such honour to be some small part of you.
I saw that creator inside the wounded body I had
Almost pitied, saw some cold holy fire
Reached, arcing from your chest beneath that delta of scars
Across your Saggital line from father to son, of the most ancient natural kind.
Not by blood, it was some truth written like a promise
On your trembling arms, across your hooded eyes, through even the sore
Blossoming stoma on your side, no Spear of Destiny would find.
And I saw it all; you were trying to show me how
I had felt in your arms when I was a child in that same bath.
All these years gone and sometimes I feel like I’m still
Holding you, your head against my chest while I washed you
I know I probably wasn’t your favourite son.
But for those last six months, old friend, you were mine.