He shares my morning cup of tea, likes it
colder than me. Staring at the empty
blue window, he's my dad propped up
glimpsed again through the ward's swing doors.
I reach for my book, find my place
or jump up quick, wash, give myself
a close shave, inhale soap, and froth
the strong teeth he bares at the mirror.
He's a rude child. I rattle him off
downstairs, stop his mouth with muesli,
fresh fruit. Once I'd kiss him at the school
gates and get on with my life.
But he grows so fast. No time since
he was nothing but a blink in my eye,
a blank at the end of my tunnel,
yet self-evident now, so conspicuous
in the tube some woman stands up
and offers me her seat. Though my feet
are killing me, I decline, my smile
tightened by his grin. He knows me.
inside out. He's like a parent
come to collect me from a party
I've just started to enjoy. Ridiculously
punctual. Oh, he can wait. Yes, he can wait.
And he does, exchanging ghastly
benign glances with that corpse
of yours at the way we fret
over deadlines or how badly we've slept.
from Permission to Breathe (2004)