Broken man, your fists, two blue sphinx
curled atop a frayed wool blanket
guarding what wastes beneath.
And still, that ruthless countenance
remembered from childhood…
your brute face
eyeing me with disdain.
Angry I was not cut closer to the bone,
sliver from the granite block
your heart veined.
Instead, taking after my mother
who wore your hand marks on the same dark places
I also learned to hide.
Quaking before the patriarch
for whom mercy was the crushing of moths
snatched from late night candles,
rubbed between forefinger and thumb.
Three years since my mother’s death
while I’ve been over twenty eight gone.
Unable to forgive as she did;
writing me once,
“his expressions have softened”
Could that have been true?
Or just her mind gone blank
before the sudden slip that took her.
A fall your stony silence made
all the more suspect.
And now, here I am
huddled next to your wasted flesh
crooked mouth, blinking eyes
blinded by the naked bulb
hung above this dayroom bed.
Thinking back to all those helpless moths
you claimed to have put out of misery.
By NEIL BROSNAN: mercy