Lost Last Days

The room was dark at midday,
The curtains pulled shut,
The windows closed.
His stale breath had filled the room,
Choking,
Thick, death,
Suffocating his daughters in the doorway,
A single ray of light pouring around them,
Too late for him to see,
Everything too late.

They were the only two that came,
The only two who cared,
Broken hearts that never gave up.

Their eyes never met.
For all his blank stares,
They couldn’t look back.
His limp, lifeless form concealed
Beneath sheets of piss and beer
And a vomit trail to the floor.

The carpet was ash and glass,
Shattered by an angry man.
He was always angry,
Ever drunk.
His cigarettes were all smoked now,
His final breaths ignited in his lungs.
He stopped breathing the air some time ago.
The respirator was in the corner,
Almost too gently placed for the drunk and dying wretch,
Unused, as far as the eye could tell.

It had only been a week.
A week of smoke that choked the room,
A bouquet of flowers its first withering victim,
But not its last.
A glass of water his daughters left
Sat in its same spot on the coaster
Beside a bottle of Dutch Gold,
Pensioners’ beer.
The phone hung from the bedside locker,
Dangling, taunting the last life in the dark.
They came because his phone never rang.

They cared, but they couldn’t see him,
Still couldn’t look at him, yet,
And all his vile temper.

The dresser was untouched.
Not just by him, but by anyone.
All of his wife’s jewellery,
All her make-up,
And that special sequin dress,
All laid out for her to wear,
Still there since her death.
It seemed too long ago to be real,
Except for that dress.

It would have been special.
One thousand days, their mother told them,
That was special.

Now only the shards of glass sparkled.
They nested deep in grime,
Surrounding the glittering forms of unbroken bottles,
Mostly empty, but not always,
Discarded cigarette butts dotted around them.
A black spot on the wall marked where they had been extinguished.
The once-white ceiling was stained charcoal by the smoke.

At last his stupid smile,
(The last unobserved spectacle)
A rare smile,
As he looked at them,
His wife’s photograph held limply in his hand.
He’d died looking at it
When the beer was gone and the smoke gone out,
Staining her blouse with one last kiss,
A cancerous rouge of cobalt, ash and blood.
He suffered with cracked lips for that kiss.
But then, he did love her,
Even as his mind died,
Even as his heart failed,
While the last breaths burned away.
He always loved her.

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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