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Salmon Poetry

Vigil

Fred Johnston

‘Notre porte reste ouverte même la nuit,
  Chacun est libre d’y entre.’
            Clara Dupont-Monod, La Passion selon Juette

He lay on his side in a room where the door stayed open
Not a good sign in a hospital ward
A sort of dry contempt for someone so agile
So quick on his feet and with his tongue
The great silence, solid as brick, framed in that open door

I ought to have visited more often – isn’t that what we say?
A tendril of remorse tickles the heart
What good does it do either of us, the still-standing,
And the shrink-wrapped form that couldn’t care less
Lungs stuffed like cabbage leaves, you might say that.

We’re going nowhere, not now. We’re entangled here
Among the hissy tubes, the bips, the lime-green lights:
Is this what’s left for language?
In my room I have his books, unreturned
Refugees, he was their country, lock and key.

Copyright © Fred Johnston 2018

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