This Man Who Is Not My Father Is My Father by Dónall Dempsey

This man
who is not

my father



The other’s laugh:

“It’s not your turn but
he calls only for you! ”

And so I go
& clean him up

his skeleton thin body
splashed with urine & sh**.

I laugh & joke
with him.

He chuckles
as I tell him:

“Michael…you used to be
so full of crap
but sh**…now you’re not! ”

our Irish sense of humour

extends this far

say anything with love and
it becomes so.

It is a tired old joke
but like a child he

pounces on its nuances
relishing each pause and stupid syllable!

I bathe

this man
who is not my father

gently as if he were

my child.

I sing
to him
all the old songs

I learned
at my father’s hands

as he bathed me.

“…why does my poor heart keep following you…”

We sing together
softly as I bathe him

dress him

in the memory
of my father.

This man
who is not

my father

my father

as my hands learn
to care for him.

I settle
a pillow

his head

wipe sweat
from his forehead

his hair

until his sleep
is full

of dreams



Author: Dónall Dempsey

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