I meet him off the London train – it’s late
again. His stuff’s in supermarket bags –
except for his guitar; I’d be irate –
standing all the way – our third-world Virgin.
I make him soup, grill chicken; and begin
to fuss over one who feels no time lags.
I knead his neck muscles; then clear his plate.

Our dialogue’s what we’ve recently read,
his most recent gigs and his latest songs.
Yet more outlandish travels lie ahead.
He leaves his version of Akhmatova’s
‘Requiem’: how prison-queue-proof she was.
By two he sleeps. The settled house belongs
to us: to me here; to him in his own bed.

Before tomorrow’s lunch-time airport run –
translation chores send him to Vilnius –
he’ll check the file ‘Computer Probs. for Son’–
those nagging faults I can’t begin to fix –
but his quick fingers, they know all the tricks,
clattering across this keyboard... I must
make sure he has clean shirts, and at least one...

I’ll hug him tight before he goes – by then
my dad had vanished, though he’d left somewhere
a helpless cup of tea, time and time again,
that I would find lukewarm, gulp down... Then dash.
But now, must check my son’s OK for cash
and then I’ll make quite certain...

Down every page this printer’s tramlines lengthen.

                                                The Frogmore Papers (78)
Poem 8