Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Family Duties

The shaft stands out from his withered thigh, 
a musical instrument awaiting the soft sigh of fingers.
‘It hurts to think about the past’ he whispers
while his red-tinged fingers pluck at the blade’s point 
that pokes, shyly as a bud, out from underneath his thigh
having chewed through muscle and nudged bone. 
His cow-sad eyes plead. ‘I remember firm calves
and eyes that could read the signs,’he says. 
Tears cut through his flesh to spill upon the floor 
a million visitor’s footsteps have worn to dull boards.

I withdrew the spear, his body shivered; a lover 
farewells the assent. ‘it will reappear again tomorrow
and for as long as you are prepared to withdraw it.’
His mouth stumbled over each word
as if he were drunk with the absence, the pit.
My eyes followed his down to the hole, saw the flesh 
split like lips. ‘It’s the yang of me’ he said, 
‘that undoes the memory of  blood I have spilled 
upon the fields of valour - or worse, in bedrooms
trying to restore the finite amount of courage left in my heart.

His hands gripped my shoulders, fingers pushed deep 
into the heart of me.  'I am not without fault.’ He said, 
his white hair swishing as he shook his head. That night 
I slept in a cell, small and dark – cold as a lover’s back 
in a bed somehow stretched to engulf a world.

In the morning the songs of birds hung the sun 
out to dry, shafts of light, gentler than the spear, 
fell upon my bed and face. I rose 
knowing I would need to grip that shaft again and onwards 
until my father felt redeemed despite his guilt.

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