they all said it must be tough
with him at boarding school, alone,
i smiled at their fast and worried love as
my mother’s voice quivered down the phone.
the scene is not dramatic; just take
the bumper and his tiny skull
not even heaney’s mid-term break;
nothing which could change the world.
i like to imagine my stoic face,
angular, the silent sufferer but
i am not odysseus. i won’t embrace
it, fiddling as I sit, not even cut
by her words, though i know she feels them deeply.
will the pain seep in? i pine
not for grief but for feeling,
abstractly grope for it in my mind.
my mouth twitches. i wish i could stop
her sobs into the phone’s shoulder, telling
how his brittle body was carried in a plastic bag
how he was buried under the tree and
how the candles she lit shake the night.
i cut the line
then picture her swollen face talking to no one.
i should have been a better son.