I wait for him at the bay near the house
where he raised us, my brother and me, after our mothers fled. When he appears I shudder involuntarily, the way a filly shudders when it is whipped.
I observe his pained gait
along the sand, his bad leg swinging
stiff from step to step, the metronome
of a pain I have been deaf to
for five years, and my heart beats against
the boned cage of my ribs.
‘Hi,’ he says, as if nothing ever happened
and I watch him roll the years I have stayed away
around his mouth like cheap whisky: he spits
them out and we watch as they sink
into white sand. He made me twitch
as a child, the agony of his sheared bones singing
down his hand into me; the red welts
raised on my thighs in silent harmony.
I look at his crooked body.
‘Hi,’ I reply and an hour passes.
Old stallion, old workhorse. My father’s body
a shape worn within me, suddenly revealed.
After a while he leaves
like the tide rushing out.