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by Peter Spafford

The last time I saw my father we were smarting from a row.

A classic departure: an open return, and the long local train gathering pace;

I can flash it up now,

him standing there, the pouches of sadness in his face

and the last chance bleeding.


When I walk back from the train I am swinging a summerful of light

on a thumb that has hitched through Italy and France from a Mediterranean port.

I have lain awake all night

on the ribs of a luggage rack, smiling at the thought

of hearing his voice again.


The scene unfolds: the village pattering with talk and shopping feet,

unmindful of this Homeric return, the stride, unannounced, up the hill of my birth.

I practise my greetings on the street,

the old quarrel tucked, with others, in family earth.


But this is where the tape spools out, the door opens to black.

And when I call his name in the house, the house does not call back.




by Peter Spafford, from Quick (£7.99)

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