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The interval between the moment when
My father lost his arms, then legs, then
All the rest was less
Than I micro-second.
All afternoon
I’ve thought about that flash —
And how we flung you away
Like smoke
Over the waters of Williamstown Bay
Where the big ships you loved so much
Lay sleeping.

After the grieving and the rage
It all came down to this:
Dad, I’m in denial.
Before I’m ash
I want to shoot my age.
Smile if you like,
It makes no difference now.

When the worst had passed
I thought of the guy who stabs the button:
Sometimes he must conjure them
Standing at the bar, sipping a lager,
Or hooking the last stitch in a doily,
Then he drops his arm
And in they slide like so much mutton.
Flash. Then an absence
Larger than a house.

Each month he has to emend his vita,
Tot up the new ones at the kitchen table,
Then drive back for the afternoon shift.

Dad, you have to stroke it right:
You line up it up exactly as you can
And say Good-bye to your mind.
You swing clear out of time
Less than a microsecond,

And let you body flow —
And snap it, hard and clean.
Then, if it sings down the bronze air
You’ve caught it well. It’s difficult.
And rare.

I hear you asking me:
Yes, son — but what’s it all mean?
I tell you, I’m in denial.
I’m denying you the right to question me
And make my body freeze with
Too much thinking
About you, and everything that moves
Or used to move.

There’s a mad wind banging my face.
I’m going simple, I like this wind,
I like this stinking place.

Dad, you can shove your doubt.
My blood’s fuming with desire.
I’m off, down the long green
Slope, you’ll have to wait some years
Before you enquire
Again. I’m hungering for eighty. I’m opting in.
I’m opting out.