The Manchester Review
Rita Ann Higgins
Three Poems
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Visiting My Father at Christmas

How hard could it be?
Duck in, a bit of small talk
duck out, dodging the bullets,
and fire a few myself
how hard could it be?

The booby traps are under
the quality street box.
Tread softly, start again.
It will be easy
a piece of cake,
dyspepsia maybe
or no heart scald at all.

A short journey
or a long haul,
the choice is mine.
Watch out for black ice
by nature sly
by day a looking glass.

There are no footpaths
no kerbs to fall off,
this territory is wide open
a plate under foot.

Words matter;
words don’t matter
speak when you’re spoken too.
Spokes are a snare
silence is the hardest station
remember the fifth commandment.

Plenty to talk about
the frost, the treachery of ice
the black ice.
The heat of the room
the great fire,
that’s a great fire
the Quality Street
and who brought them.
The new couch and chairs.
That’s a lovely couch, is it new?
the great fire,
we did the fire already,
next get-out clause where are you?