this scrap of life
by troubles so familiar
they seem like comfort

time remains precious
in his hairy fist

to balance once more the chequebook
scraping another month’s rent
for the shabby container of his life,
to brave the indignity of more doctors’ visits,
to wait of an evening
for a phone that does not ring
awaiting a call to arms
a summons from beyond his curtailed existence

a handful of siblings now sit
sipping despondence from chipped cups
circle within and drain
no platitudes overlooked
in making sense of his end

love, that perennial promise
it sparked once
gold ran through the hourglass

in those years
he gave to life’s most potent pledge
a thousand petit morts
long ago they spilled
into seedy years

a veil descended
passions wore thin
wife, children, home,
collateral against his story’s end
the veil hardened
a barrier between him
and the countless skin pricks
that keep one in life

his eyes slowly clouded

was it for this
that his mother carried him?
on that shivering night
did his father dream of sons
to stand tall
change the world
leave a legacy of hearts bereft?
or did DNA merely
insinuate its code
through their pedestrian existence

what then kept him
when biology had purposed him

on the fourteenth floor
of a medical facility
his hand held
a phrase
fourth stage
he stared
shifting letters
seeking another message
one he could comprehend
one he could live with

now he has gone
for some time
his daughters will catch an old man
hobbling down an empty lane
from somewhere to nowhere
and look twice
seeking a silhouette
they once knew well