Has anyone seen my father?
He was here a while ago
but now he’s gone.
I put him in a gilded box
and hid him on top of my wardrobe.
I covered him over with fancy clothes
that had outworn their purpose.
Later, I took the clothes down
and gave them to the Salvos.
The box was dark and musty
and I took it down
and threw it on the tip.

I went to the tip yesterday
looking   to see what I could find.
I found the old clothes   seems
they weren’t much use for anyone else.
I wasn’t really looking for the box
but therqe it was
over in a corner   tipped on its side.
I poked it cautiously with my toe.
The gilt was all tarnished   worn thin
the sides were dented
and the hinges twisted
but it was still shiny on the corners.

When I brought the box home
I carried it gingerly   like a time bomb.
I took it to my room and shut the door.
Setting it down very carefully
I studied it from all sides   all angles.
Then I squatted down   and slowly
carefully   turned the key in the lock.
It grated and turned stiffly   it
had been a long   long   time.
Nervously I lifted the lid and peered
inside.   No-one there.
Only an empty box in my hands.


(This poem was originally called Untitled 23)