Going Missing

Half-cold potato, carelessly half-mashed
listless eyes half-crushed, half-eaten, slicked
in an oily spill of Bisto. This ‘home’, half-home,

half-hospital: our half-lives shortening. The dull buzz
of fluorescent half-light. The days decay. Air strung
with quiet sweetness: disinfectant; deep brown piss;

fading now familiar; nostrils stung with sterilizer;
medicated shampoo; shit. Smells don’t stay sharp
as the gashed smiles, carved on the faces of staff

for all unpleasantries – enemas and mop-ups,
explaining empty chairs at breakfast, passing time
with visitors. Our grey-haired children come

and clutch at their concern and their relief. And never
look back as the locks click shut. This place
of absent doors that disappear and then arrive

in empty walls. Corridors evolve into dead ends
one hour, resolve themselves when passing next.
Locked doors. No keys. I’ve not held a key

these seven years. Who’d have thought you could miss
the click of a latch, the pleasing weight of a fist of keys,
the smell of old metal, the swing of a hinge? I dream

beyond indignities of cliché that glut my empty hours
with plastic plant-pots, toffee papers, tena pads,
small piles of coins that disappear into the foggy days.

I know she takes them. Some day I’ll gather up the lost
and passing things. Cologne and Brylcreem, tie pin,
neatly polished shoes. I’d not go hatless. Wind my watch

and turn the key. I’d hail a cab and give directions
in a bright clear voice. I’ll step from somewhere high
into the unlocked air and unrestrained, ungoverned by my age,

your inconvenience, your locks, I’ll take my last breath flying.


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