for Ken

Cold, measured, you drew your father
while he lay dying, teasing him into
the perfection of your art, offering
fresh life in your swiftest lines.

It was reciprocal: his eyes lolled back
into where experiences had coiled
uselessly, gave you their expression
of intensity to inherit, not despair.

His breath balanced on the inheld breath
of the awed wind, brushing your fist
as it clenched; his light entered the lead
in your pencil with the incipience of day.

A makeshift Creator, you stayed him
in your world where steeples stretched
taller for him in the dark, and swansongs
dressed his bones with something like skin,

replacing hollows with a smudged bloom.
Tell those who criticised your control
how art and life used each other
with such hallowing that the paper

became a cradle when you scooped him up –
sanctified into your wrung hand.


Patricia McCarthy is half Irish and half English. Her collection, Rodin’s Shadow, was published in 2012 by Clutag Press/Agenda Editions. Horses Between Our Legs, headed by her poem which won the National Poetry Competition, 2013, was published in 2014. Letters to Akhmatova has been published recently. She is the editor of Agenda poetry journal

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