Late home again, I heard murmurs about me,
my parents in bed. It was not the first time,
and I didn’t know whether they ever realised
I could hear them speaking, that I also guessed
what their regular topic was. By oversight
left on the dining room table, not typed
but (“strictly required of all candidates”)
done in handwriting ‒ upright ‒ spaced
as clearly as always ‒ was my father’s
most recent letter of application.
I should not have read it. It set out his wide
experience, his talents, his eagerness
to meet new prospects with fresh ideas,
and adjust to a changing world (which went
without saying but had to be said). I saw
one detail that stopped me with its bravery:
“I am still a young man”, and the figure he added,
like this: (47). I looked at the clock
‒ as late as that? There was no more risk
of waking them now. I could go to bed.
Seventeen, on that frozen night my eyes
started something not far from the same sort of tears
that they fill with today, so I like to believe.