for my father
Tibouchina, warm maple-leaf, elsewhere it is winter.
My father standing at the doorway with a phlegmy cough
in the damp basement flat, his gaze a despair,
resignation, I fear before the rite of knowing.
I take the Piccadilly line after
Singapore transit, change at Leicester Square
to come back to this room,
Some days, for no reason, I shed tears.
Some things cannot be reconciled, how do we heal them?
Already in his prime, my father is falling,
And I fall with him
(the kind of man who does not dwell in detail— surely that is greatness
to know when the end has come.)
Forget the taunts, the colour of your skin, the sticks and stones. (He laughs.)
I have spent my entire life catching up to history,
it was never my favourite subject.
We are falling out of the centre of the world into oblivion,
my mother by the maisonette window, distracted.
Clouds are skimming; leaves are spiralling down from the plane trees.
She does not notice beauty, though it notices her.
And I am the dreamer. I cannot bear her pain, or his,
conceding rather, the price paid for dreams.
Now I wake to blackness, that punched-out hole in the ground,
rehearse the law of physics
I’ll answer when gravity calls.
1 August 2017