The Absent Fathers

Dermot Bolger

I am the smiling man letting go his hand at the door,
Timing to the last second when I must bring him back.

I am the six days of purgatory when I torture myself
With longing for a glimpse of his eight-year-old face.

I am a succession of happy meals and playgrounds,
An opened wallet, a question he cannot express,

An extra portion of fries, a man trying not to obsess
About making each moment we spend together count.

I am the cause of confusion, I am a boundless love,
I am a blemish in what should be his fairytale world.

I am the father who only catches glimpses into his life,
I am a monthly standing order, a hunter with his gun

Who lost his way out hunting, a sailor adrift at sea
Outside a Clondalkin house, meekly awaiting my turn.

I am a weekly routine, a slot allotted by a mediator,
A concerned voice unable to discern if he is all right,

I am the name that he has learnt not to call out for:
The absence who cannot banish his fears at night.



The Absent Fathers


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