Jack

by D A Prince

Every family has one somewhere on the tree,
slipping out late with a cardboard suitcase,
enough to pay his passage. Or slamming out,
cracking the plaster, waking neighbours
who keep silence, knowing their own.
Or one-day-doesn’t-come-in, and his girl
eyeing the calendar. Not great writers
the raw-skinned terraced lads. They know enough
not to look back: at the one photograph,
a musty wardrobe, the narrow bed.
Never buying a stamp for a postcard –
Statue of Liberty, or the Chicago skyline,
they leave all points of the compass possible.
Good with horses is how they’re remembered,
handy with a hammer. Their names come up
at Christmas, or as birthdays mount,
or in dreams where they never age.
The elsewhere of them is the one constant
among deaths and births; with no date to mourn
they will swagger back one day, bigger than life,
a knock on the door to complete the circle.