You’ve played this part before, Dad:
the sick man with the rasping cough
on thespian boards, you loved to tread.
But this time it’s for real –
working hard to
perfect the wavering voice,
the hesitant shuffle,
capturing the head’s incline,
and conjuring for the gathered crowd
the perfect line.
It’s just me beside you now, Dad,
My hand cupped round your grey head.
Whispering poems you always loved
to the rhythm of the heart machine;
its patterns bleeping reassurance
that you are still alive.
Centre-stage in your hospital bed
with an audience of one,
your face awash with dappled light
from the sun.
When you get out of here, Dad,
Great performances await:
from John B. Keane to Frederica Lorca.
Your passionate heart will swell
to rapturous applause.
Will you dream of it now
like you’re waiting in the wings,
powdered and painted and dressed?
‘Good night, sweet Prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’