Things Already Lost

Anthony Anaxagorou

A dead rat could be a dead lung 
except nobody wants to touch 
a dead rat without gloves.

                          At the end of the funeral 
                          my son asks when will she 
                          climb out the box.

He learnt to say ‘pigeon’
by asking what the flattened 
thing was in the driveway.

                          Each morning for a week
                          he’d run to the window waving 
                          at its disintegrating wings.

Like this he learnt the perils 
of grapes, to grip banisters 
& stand still for sun block.

                          In the park he insists we race 
                          & like any good father
                          I make my body age.

He leaps claiming victory
I feign a sadness offering
his rapture a little more time.

                          He wants to keep a leaf for a pet 
                          I want to warn him about getting 
                          attached to things already lost.

In the bath he needs to know 
where water ends when it 
disappears along with dirt.

                          At the table he folds a napkin 
                          into a frail boat pushing it along 
                          an edge.

We watch a snail work the earth 
he asks if the trail is a thing
it makes or it leaves.

                          Ladybird blood is a firm yellow 
                          containing only signal released 
                          when danger’s close.

He balances a blueberry 
on a spoon reaching for 
my hand before crossing

                          when a cyclist is down
                          most of us will stand one of us kneels 
                          nobody’s sure where to touch.