Michael Prior


In medias res, I’m paused and mute: no device
sufficient, but what can I do? Ten years old,
the newly-appointed right hand man for my father’s
           infirmity: slipped disc, torn tendon— 

something similar. The reasons were always unreliable.
It was summer; thin-limbed floaters had colonized
the backyard’s Bermuda, clinging to the glass
           like nightly static. At least, I remember

them that way. His retreat into TV was misperceived
by my mother, who moved the departed’s portrait
out of the hall until more time had passed.
           Distracted, I sought sense in patterns:

sticky rings of beer stamped on the bedside table,
concentric casings of molluscs and trees, the gold
bands around my father’s fingers, cinching
           taut the skin. In the dark, the screen’s

lite-brite scroll was a periscope pointed at the sky,
transmitting every colour a shade of black. The world
waited at an impasse. Ballistic nets divvied up
           the atmosphere, parsed nations into grids,

while far north, radar arrays shifted alien faces,
mumbled not yet, anticipated a reason to dial home.
Unseen fission crackled across the channels,
           electric chords dubbed Clint Eastwood’s canter

out of town: proof of decisive action. Everybody
lies from time to time. We watched Han Solo blast
Greedo beneath the table. I didn’t understand why,
           recalled various insects mashed under

my shoes. Told to be quiet and pay attention,
I attempted his advice as it played again, but instead,
dreamed a dark horse among the stars. I strained
           my eyes. He wasn’t going to explain it twice.