I jolt awake in the middle of the night
like some poor sod in a science fiction novel,
catapulted back to the planet of the past
where my father lugs his cardboard suitcase
up the steps of the single-decker bus,
its throaty purr intensifying for departure.
The doors close with a clang and he disappears
out of my life forever—or until next month’s visit
which amounts to the same thing.
When I return to the intangible present,
the strings that lash me to the ground
seem perilously worn, like brittle bones
susceptible to fracture. I reach for your hand
but you’re conked in sleep. What would be
the point in waking you? I’m too wise to think
you’ll be here forever. And what’s to stop me
rocketing around the house after you’re gone,
bumping into walls I didn’t know were there.
Angela Patten’s publications include four poetry collections, The Oriole & the Ovenbird (Kelsay Books 2021), In Praise of Usefulness (Wind Ridge Books 2014), Reliquaries (Salmon Poetry, Ireland 2007) and Still Listening (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 1999), and a prose memoir, High Tea at a Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood (Wind Ridge Books 2013). Her work has appeared in many literary journals such as Innisfree Poetry Review, Calyx Journal; Nimrod International Journal; The Café Review; Crosswinds Poetry Journal and Poetry Ireland Review; and in anthologies including The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing; The White Page/An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets; Cudovista Usta (Marvellous Mouth), Drustvo Apokalipsa (Slovenia); The Breath of Parted Lips Volume II; Birchsong I and II: Poetry Centered in Vermont; and Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she now lives with her husband, poet Daniel Lusk, in Burlington, Vermont, where she is a Senior Lecturer Emerita in the English Department at the University of Vermont.
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