Our Father’s Body – a poem by M J Sully

Our Father's Body

He had always been lean, strong, a cyclist.
Rode a fifty-mile, timed trial two days before
his appointment at the hospital. Just a test
he said, an enquiry into his body. It was news
to the rest of us that he'd felt poorly for a while.

Weeks later he came home for Christmas,
wrapped in canvas. We found him hiding
within the alcoves of his skin, saw the inside
of his smile as his face caved in; the pale
pull of muscle shredding against bone.

We loosened and peeled back the sheet,
tried to catch him but he slipped away
in the water that streamed from his limbs,
that ran down my arms as I kissed his hands;
strange how it felt so cool, so clean.

M J Sully ‘s publications include Prole, Strix, Trouvaille Review, Pulp Poets Press and Obsessed with Pipework. She’s been long-listed for The London Magazine Poetry prize and is currently working on a pamphlet of poems about dementia based on her experience of looking after her mother.

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