Art Interludes, Literature, Valley Voices

Playing Scrabble with my father

These are his words – weak  wilt  sorrow  soul

My letters could spell – death

attaching to his word – atheist

the horizon, a black storm front

we both sense,

                              lifting the hair

                                               on the back of my neck.

So I hold off, the small room suddenly thick with heat.

The words keep surfacing, kissing the surface

before slipping back down,

                                               unbidden, not yet.

His words – kite  song  witty  plane

                 simple, declarative, words he can make

here and now, where once was

                love      I wait

for this word to surface for him, for me,

it doesn’t matter who.

Instead I could piece together – eulogy
for 29 glorious points,

                                tumbling and bubbling down
                                               like a spring from – soul

but I am reluctant to pull ahead,

              turn eulogy into luge
              reckless twisting down an icy tunnel.

He joins gene to luge

Are we speaking in riddles?
as his cancer cells  slide so efficiently
through his lymph system.

All I have to offer is   never

a triple letter score, 19:

              never to slip feet into shoes,
              never another snowfall,

nevers are infinite and I withhold again,
                letting him choose the verb.

Each time I walk through the door
of my childhood home and turn

towards his room,
I wonder if morphine has yet stolen

all the words,

if this is the way the game will end.

But he has these last few plays to make,

the letters limited as time

clicking like fingerbones

in the night-coloured whiskey sack:


Nothing from me. Then his last silent imperative


About Nadine McInns

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