He looks me straight in the eye,
ninety years old
folded in his favourite chair,
and tells me he doesn't want this,
to watch himself die, to have the doctor
plumb any further depth of his scarred lungs.
He, who himself spent so many years
holding the chests of others up to the light
to forecast the storms gathering there,
the squalls and depressions
smudging those two pale oceans,
rising and falling in the rib cage's hull.
Here then is the old curse
of too much knowledge, driftwood
collected along the shore of a century.
He settles himself in the chair
and I say what I can, but my words are spoken
into a coastal wind long after the ship has sailed.
Later he shows me to the door
and as he stands in its frame to wave me away
we both know there has already been a passing,
one that has left a wake as that of a great ship
that disturbs the sea for miles either side
but leaves the water directly at its stern
strangely settled, turned, fresh
and somehow new,
like the first sea there ever was
or that ever will be.