St. Stephen’s Day, 1977
for my mother
Yesterday, in my new football boots I moved
like Kevin Keegan through the silver afternoon.
Today, Mull of Kintyre is number one
and the film director Howard Hawks is dead.
I take my football boots off,
am myself again.
You’re still a skeleton with all day night sweats.
The doctor, who knows the why of everything
but this, has given you back for Christmas.
Most of the turkey goes leathery in the fridge.
Dad puts the telephone down, tells me
to extinguish the TV. The doctor
wants you back three days early.
Our Ford Cortina cradles you
through late afternoon streets,
all those lit windows and wreaths.
But we don’t see them. And nothing is said
as we deposit you at Unit Seven,
Merlin Park Hospital. You at the door
giving a small pale wave. In the near distance
the disused boiler’s giant chimney stack.
The rain saying terrible things
as we drive off, that Christmas
you didn’t die.
KEVIN HIGGINSfrom Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010)