Taking Leave

His brother is sitting by the window.

The nurse has tipped a jigsaw puzzle

on the table in front of him,

clumps of grey cardboard, a twiggy heap

nobbled as the oak leaves

thick under the trees in the grounds outside.

My father struggles slowly through the Day room

lifting his stick as he looks around smiling.

His brother has been told he is coming

but beams in surprise when he sees him.

I get some chairs. I want it to be special,

an exchange of stories from

the deep sequestration of ninety years

shared lives, but they say almost nothing

just find each other’s shaking hand.

We sit in the winter Sunday afternoon

and although we could stay longer, until the bell

and even knowing this is the last time,

they are tired

and they’ve said all there is to say.