You lie there … – poem

You lie, as always, 
head tipped forwards on 
the awkward abundance of those pillows.
Today you are near the surface.
But more often the climb is wearyingly hard
to break surface and return our greeting.
Here for a moment is the familiar smile. 
Your eyes reach ours,
but not for long.
You sink back down 
light fading 
from your vacant face.
This journey will take all the time and strength you have.
We cannot see it.
You cannot speak of it.
Perhaps we should not break the vigil 
with chat and news – though we do.
But I have recovered a language 
we last used in my childhood, dad.
I hold your hand.
Sometimes in the depths 
someone talks with you. 
You nod in agreement,
even reply aloud.
Once you laughed.
You spent a lifetime walking with others.
I love the thought that
on your final, unmapped path, 
and in resting places by the trail, 
they wait to greet you,
walk awhile with you, 
give you heart
and urge you on
                                     while here
on the surface of this autumn world,  
I look out of the window. 
Apples hang heavy on the trees beside the car park.
And in this borrowed bed,
beneath that faded eiderdown, 
wrapped in the thin, translucent parchment
that is your skin,
your life too draws 
to its harvest.
October 2007
In memory of my Father