A Prodigal Daughter’s Lament

Grief grows on me like moss, 

needling in and over the stonewall
of my face, as our knuckles mesh,
bridging time and fathers lost before.
He’s mislaid more than memories,
hope is seeping from his bones:
“Life is so, so short, girleen –
Can I stay back home tonight?
What did you say? I can? Good, so…
I’m sorry, I should be doing better.”
His tangled tears restring my unsung pain.
“You’re doing great, please don’t worry”

Every old man I see reminds me*
there is only one old man,
with every grain of youth and joy
and laughter buried within.
If I could slice through time
and bend it, so it reflects bright
glimpses of conversations and
kindness and shell shocked love,
but most off all the freedom to roam,
now shackled in a shuffling gait,
and an unquenchable desire
to go, to leave, to be at home.

*Memory of My Father, by Patrick Kavanagh 

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