We watched him die for sixteen years
and still he will laugh back.
The doctors got it wrong again,
our grief is now bankrupt.
Feel that relief, they say, of debts removed
(or kidney). Of illness tempered for
a little while, by drugs and luck and cheating.

And yet there’ll be another fall,
a new prognosis and another
knock—a debt collector or a doctor
and I wonder if I’ll forget our address again
as I did when I was ten,
on the phone to the paramedics
or whoever they were.

I wonder if I’ll forget the necessary numbers—
a phone or a postcode
as if I don’t want them to find us, really.
Trained from an early age for avoidance,
for running away, for delaying death
and bankruptcy for a little more time

I think of what it buys, this expensive delay:
a game to play, and some evenings in. A little
whiskey, but not too much, “You know my liver
isn’t what it was.”
In spite of it all—those forgotten numbers, dramatic
near-ends, falls and sickness, I can’t help but find
my father’s smile just charming.

For a moment, an evening, we have evaded them again,
we have lost the debt collectors and the doctors
and one drink is almost enough,
one evening is everything.