The Return of the Prodigal

The prodigal dragged himself to the last but one crest

and collapsed back to his bloodied palms.

The heat seared his boils and cooked his feet.

‘Take me back a slave’ he mouthed, tongue swollen to a ball. He screwed his eyes to

his father, already there to greet him, and fell into the valley.

 

Down in the shady vale were two groups

deep in conversation.

He stumbled to the first.

‘Who do you think you are?’ they asked, and

in shredded words he told his story,

of what lay behind and who lies ahead.

‘You must turn back and overthrow your oppressor’ said one.

‘No, no’ said another, ‘survive, go slay your brother and take his half as well’.

‘How can he?’ said the third, ‘when neither we nor they exist to him? Look,

he sees but only a mirage’.

 

The prodigal collapsed, his legs too weak to hold him

and lay as dead, flies creeping to his eyes.

The second group encircled. ‘Dream and dream again’, a face stared down to his,

‘Dreams to kill your father, and take your mother’.

The prodigal rolled. He felt fluid rise corrosive in his throat

and groaned at their despairing words.

‘No, no – sleep easy’, said another, ‘how can you strive, how can you know your

father? It was never rational to come’.

‘He can’t assume, rationale or none’ said the third, ‘Your return is

in vain, you cannot know your father’.

 

The prodigal let go his head and it rolled back

to open full his neck and a mouth white with spume,

his eyeballs drying in the wind. Above on the ridge

stood his father, looking down, a shimmer to his failing sight in the

evening light, come to the very edge of his estate, and welcoming beyond.