By | 3 February 2024

Knowing the future can stop play
we shun the prophets in favour
of any game of chance.

Dad on his back in the grass relaxed in a way
I don’t remember –
white polo shirt and creased trousers
knees bent to steady my ten-month-old wobble.
Sitting side saddle, my head turned to look at him.
He has removed his shoes and a soccer ball rests
at the toes of one socked foot as if to tease it bare.
His right arm shields his eyes from the sun so that he
can return my look – what is it we see in each other
then and never again?

Too young to register anything more nuanced
than presence and absence
my sensate world still far from the theatre
of personal pronouns. Fear by any other name.

Maybe he is thinking about sales quotas
or the spin of a story over a pint in the pub
but maybe he is thinking a fine girl to start
and there will be boys too there will be more of each
all good kids who will always look to me this way.
Why would they not? One of them at least
will be the first in my family to make it
all the way to university.
There will be a dog. A cat, if pushed.
A boat for the peace. Guns for provision only.
And my wife, my Rosie, will want for nothing.
Ah, if wishes were fishes and the lads on the ship
could see me now.

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