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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

The Prodigal Son Remembers

page 71

The Prodigal Son Remembers

Returned Now to my father's house
And father in my turn, I pause
To remember that my own son too
Will soon be leaving — and to lay
Fresh flowers on my father's grave.

Strange that he never questions me
About what lies ahead. He knows
My distant story, but has grown
Into it himself — disowned
Anything that I can say.

It's not easy, wrapped in age,
To bear his secrecy. The flame
Of wanting to be gone has turned
His love away. He does not dare
To ask me what it is to burn.

He will be back. I can content
Myself with that. Then why this pain?
Is it because I am as lonely
As he is — knowing that he will return
To lay fresh flowers on my grave?

O why this silence? Does he think
That I returned unscathed? Perhaps
He half believes that having left
I should have stayed away ? I name
My old loves now, re-smell the sty,
Watch him preparing, and burn again.

Peter Bland