I visited you in a convalescent home. You couldn't get up, but you talked about the Poetry Society and the Annual Howick Daffodil Show. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't forget your years of fury. I imagined all the other old men with rugs on their laps were mild.
A picture of you in a daffodil-yellow tutu visited me. The tutu was topped by your sudden head: networks of red and blue beneath the skin.
I became anxious with beaten-back laughter.
Only now do I notice your body halting beneath the coverlet.
When I was younger you were proud of the long stoop you would make to my face. You would take it again and again, slipping your hat from your head. My head paddled the air in discomfort. It was one of the kindest things you did.
Later, when your memory was no longer strictly faithful, you continued to send instructions, weather reports and stamped-addressed envelopes: 'Rain is frequent in April. The grapefruit will be late this year. Remember to eat the apples in the shed.' All I turned up that year were nails and spiders and the shadows of your boys' appetite. You were rich and stubborn with memory: bountiful.
You wrote to the youngest son—the one with frecked legs—addressing him as the boy who once squinted in your yard—and everywhere else he possibly could. That one, my father, had practised inscrutability long at your dinner table. He grew up refusing to look for jobs in the classifieds, and stayed that way. If you were alive, you might still be sending him clippings.