Old Firm

Father, the bird writing writes bird’s nest soup —
a frail, disciplined structure, spun from its spittle
with bits of straw and dirt, then boiled with beaten eggs . . .
It kept us fed till we were big enough to leave the nest.

We walked, à troi s, to the end of the road, for my bus
to Riem, and the plane to Gatwick, seemingly
chartered by the Bierfest .. . A sudden thunderstorm
turned us into a family group: mother under her umbrella,

you hiding in a phone-box, kindly holding the doot open,
and me, giving no protection, and pretending
not to seek any either, wet and deserting and plastered,
like the hair making itself scarce on your bad head . . .

That morning you played me an interview you gave in French,
a language you hadn’t spoken in my lifetime,
literally not since my birth, when you’d been in Toulouse,
on French leave . . . Now, we joked about it—

you were easier to understand than the interviewer!
Who else understood? Your edgy, defeated laugh?
The modest, unhopeful evangelism of your final appeal
to the people of Montreal not to stop reading?