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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

The Prodigal Son

page 70

The Prodigal Son

The Summer Lags. The daylight brings
No new surprise. My father sits
Half in sunlight, half in shade.
I always dream of wandering
Beyond that open door where he
Lies stretched. His eyes are half on me
And half on where the dead sun sets.

Asleep, he sometimes stirs and mumbles
Gently in a foreign tongue.
I never know what it is he says
But it sounds warm — warm as the love
He used to load on me. They say
He wandered far in his own lost youth
Although he never speaks of it.

We brood apart. He drops stray hints
That things need mending — sometimes hits
The door-post with his fist. I shrink,
Not knowing what to say — not
Daring to ask what thought it is
That angers him. I almost think
He wishes I would go away.

And so I must. These childhood hills
Hold no secrets for me now
And all that was alive and good
Has grown to nothing. I must go,
Though not alone because the far hills call.
My love grows cold, and I have to choose
Even though there is no choice at all.

Peter Bland