Swimming in Twilight

by Peter Halpin
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, May 2019
Judged by Melissa Studdard

It takes days to force myself to go, I stumble
round with one excuse or other, it’s hard
to see the pillar we all leaned on fumble
desperately with each broken shard.

It’s not always about survival of the strong
but the will to live, an innate need to survive.
She has pictures of youngsters on walls, along
the dresser, bedside table tops, I hardly recognise

myself. I don’t tell her I am not my dead brother,
I’ve got used to playing a myriad of departed souls.
We laugh and talk about the old times as I steer her
round memories before the muddle took its toll.

Who is to say what is worse, the fatal strike
of a weak artery or the fog that wraps her in its blanket
as she wanders off, mixing metaphors and faces alike,
placing my precious years in someone else’s basket.

While the mix of metaphors and faces is a hindrance to the relative’s comprehension, it’s precisely what allows for the reader’s understanding of the poem—as “Swimming in Twilight” skillfully unrolls metaphor after metaphor after metaphor in a beautiful swirl of lines that serve as a window into the aging relative’s mind. What a paradox and pleasure to find a meditation on confusion embedded within such precise poetic clarity. --Melissa Studdard