to whatever the darkness offers.
at the pain inside her heart.
the promise of this long summer night.
A Ghost in the Car
You need some respite, the doctor said.
It’s not just advisable, it’s imperative
and, I promise, you’ll be home in weeks.
The clock ticked, the fire sang.
I found my father waiting -
Available but not enthusiastic.
A February afternoon,
not quite ripe with spring.
the ones he’d driven (twenty thousand times,
I reckoned) to work and home;
the ones I’d shared in schooldays,
allowed to steer the Morris Minor on the straight.
A great silence remained unbroken
even as we edged through the afternoon traffic.
Over the Barrow bridge and right, onto the Stradbally Road –
finally, turning through the hospital gates,
grey famine roof against the blue.
Only then did he speak:
I never thought you’d put me in the County Home.
To my father, this was still the workhouse –
dumping ground for the unwanted, unrecognised, unkempt and undesired.
He did come home that spring
But, in the berried autumn,
he was back again.
This time I didn’t have the heart or soul –
what am I saying – I didn’t have the courage
to drive him there.
I’d visit daily.
The Railway Ward, the nurses joked –
three old men, one hundred and thirty seven years of trains between them,
three rusting engines in a final siding.
And this time there was no going home.
Some days my father’s ghost travels with me in my car,
some days we laugh,
but some days he reminds me
and I shiver at the thought.