Conversations With my Father

by Suzanna Fitzpatrick

Sometimes you call me on your own, now Mum,
drugged up, sleeps more. I ask you how it goes;
you speak of broken nights, pain’s ceaseless hum,
new side effects. But what I want to know

is how you’re doing. People rarely ask
the carer how they manage all the tasks
dictated by an illness not their own;
a job for life that no-one ever chose.

You dodge my questions deftly, like the fly-
half you once were. I shouldn’t be surprised –
we’re all performers now; our cheerful smiles
a non-slip legacy, parent to child.

I say that you sound tired. “No more than usual”;
and my heart breaks, although no more than usual.