Poem from:

The MiddleMan by David Cavanagh

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It’s So Much Like Missiles

Cavanagh, David

One day you hear they’ve been fired –
the missiles I mean – you imagine them
curving like so many Golden Gates
between a hundred cities, serene vapour trails
with some message you cannot imagine,
and don’t have to, for you know
you have one half of one hour.

And everything’s suddenly simple,
like the time you heard your father had died,
long-distance the phone clicking
softly as a heart while you felt everything
freeze in your tiny kitchen, altered,
and impossibly unchanged.

And the funny thing is not that they’ve gone
up – the missiles I mean – but that they remind
you of something you didn’t do, some words
you didn’t say, just didn’t take the trouble
to say, like the time you were leaving town,
and a friend, and you never told her how much
she meant to you, and you never saw her again.

Now missiles are flying, and it’s just
like when your father died, and the visit
you’d put off became a dream-train you lived
on nightly, dark train pounding on smoothest
rails of guilt, and never ever arriving.

The thing about what’s unsaid is
you can never take it back.
If you had made that final visit
you’d have fought with him, most probably,
over Trudeau, or disarmament, something
not too close.  And it would have been
furious and futile till it hit you
that this time he was dying,
and you’d have stopped, and so would he,
both of you sheepish, feeling
each other sheepish, awkwardness
your last strange sharing.

But the thing about not visiting, not
loving enough to say or fight or apologize
or see something new between you –
the thing about not saying is

it’s so much like those missiles
up there, on the way, on the final way,
so undone, so unsaid, and so impossible
to take back.

Copyright David Cavanagh  2003

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