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October 07th 2008 print

Russell Erwin

After the March, Lewisham ’05

After the March, Lewisham ’05

He has recovered from his wife’s death
As much as ever he will, though it’s clear all’s
In place ready to act in his dying
That’s two years away from this month. But today
He’s in his best suit, bright, still the head
Of his family as we walk across the park
Where as a boy he saw O’Reilly and Bradman play.
Then I see him as he drifts behind
And without a word, turn
Back down the path, firmly, surely,
The way I’d always seen him leave the house for work.
His pace quickens till it’s almost a jog-trot, a scurry
But it’s no use.
He reappears from the toilet block,
This shy, self-contained, self-abnegating man,
Soiled underpants in hand, stands dazed and shrunken.
A jogger clips him and he collapses.
He finds his feet and straightens.
“You right, Dad?”
For the briefest second those blue eyes weaken
And search me for an answer I cannot give
Then they look back steadily, bleakly,
“Fine, fine. I’m fine. Go on. You go on.”

Russell Erwin