my papa is pluto

he is a baby again

it is a week after his 40th birthday
i am turning 7 in 3 weeks and
the world has started its existence in numbers, counting up and
down as the sun turns faces with the moon

he is a baby again
with a 48-year history

8 years of medicine, 6 at once: every 3 hours
the earth completes its orbit
and the world moves into night.
stars around wonder about this strange planet,

ahead of its time
or behind?

he is a baby again
shrinking from every round he takes around the sun

we are waiting for the day they decide that
he is no longer large enough to be considered
a planet

he is a baby again

when the sun rises every 3 hours
walking is a skill he has acquired. he can travel
the planet he has made for himself,
the planet god has banished him to become

in the 3 short hours it is day he is his age:
walk and work and win and wean
but when night comes in a steep gradient
space moves in slow motion–
light years that last more than a day ever can
and he is all weep and weak and a waning moon
against an unforgiving sky

he is a baby again
walk to crawl to struggling prostration

he is a man i no longer recognise

he is a mess of sweat and knotted muscle
and twisted tongue, swollen neck, limp feet,
trembling hands and itch and twitch and switch and still
and still he breathes heavy, in bed he strains to,
and the moon turns away from the sun.

for 8 years i have struggled to watch this lonely planet
spin in circles faster and faster and faster and faster
(spotting not being a skill he has acquired yet)—

i fear the day he tips over equilibrium and off
the orbital path he is forced to follow.

he is a baby again
trembling fingers learning to count down the days since he was born
ten thousand three hundred and seventy six, five, four, three, two,

and unlike the twelve thousand seventy third day
on which he watched my fragile bones
struggle out of my mother
into the darkness of a friday evening,
when the first day comes

i am afraid i may be an absent parent


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