On Coming to the End of M. Proust
Towards the final pages of Le temps retrouvé,
my father stands scarecrow to the wind,
purblind, ragged, duct-taped walking stick impaled
quivering in the ground beside him,
and leans his quasi centenarian foot
on the head of the pitch-fork. In slow motion,
the rusty tines slide into the stitch of earth,
to prise open its rich, constricted smile,
to dredge a chain of rictal memories.
In the canting afternoon, sky in patches
behind him, he feels the old burdens lift
for a moment, raising him up to where
the sod, unable to get a firm enough hold,
and lacking the reach to pull him back down,
is left to nip idly at his mud-packed heels.
Easing the fork once more into the heart
of friable loam, he escapes yet again
to await the turning of some final leaf.
Originally published in The House on 14th Ave. (2014).