Long Distance

In a year or two he could be gone

an open coffin at the crematorium

but for now, he has his pride.

‘defied the odds’ a Doctor’s grimace

sure that he’s clinging on, like surfers peaking a wave

or limpets saving themselves from the dog’s tongue.

This gentle wallowing in the shallows, rage

a lap lapping at hind legs

is a coldness at his bum hole whispering

‘this man won’t go to death and is costing us’.

He can feel the saline chill

he can feel, sand between toes,

the Weaver fish, out there, somewhere.

He floats a bit, squat, upright, arse to floor

a buoy adrift not ready yet

and the shallows are a little cold.

But unseen the beach rises in a mournful column

and ahead, suddenly, a wave like a funeral pyre

and he looks for someone, flailing now

like a fish caught in a net.

inspired by John Burnside


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