Yesterday, I saw the strangest familiarity of my Father in a brown pigeon.
Not in his appearance, however. Father was not feathered.
Instead, he was thin, brittle and as cold
as the pale blue walls that surrounded him.
The half eaten apple, browning on the inside,
and the full glass of water wasn’t a mirror of the man
who used to devour steak and drink black stouts.
This wasn’t his environment. On Fridays, we chopped wood together
for the fire inside. We’d sit beside it where he proceed to dominate me
in Scrabble and Risk.
The only foot he set in here before was for my birth.
Despite the tube from his neck and tags on his wrists
and the frighteningly low numbers on the board at the end of his bed
(which I tried to pretend weren’t there)
his spirit was like the olympic torch. It wouldn’t go out.
He still managed to lighten up the room with humour
and make the other patients laugh.
He still gave me the best advice for playing rugby and verbalised
winning tactics through his toothy grin.
He still flirted with my old mum and brought colour to her cheeks
with soft kind words and quotes from Keats.
The pigeon I saw was, for whatever reason,
walking in the road against highway traffic,
each car narrowly missing his tiny head that
kept craning forward with each step he took.
Father was marching like that.
Both of them a ferocious tidal bore against the current.
Originally published March 2016