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Danny Boy

Michael’s only words
were ‘yeah!’
and ’nuh!’
enough to hear
his Irish brogue

the stroke
had been severe

his eyes
always sparkled
with mischief
he’d shuffle over
and do his thumbs up
over and over
forever finding
something to laugh about

at the height of summer
we had a group outing
to Savernake forest
the van had special rails
in the floor
to fasten the wheelchairs

he did his ‘yeah!’
and his thumb
to nearly everything
it was marvellous

we had to stay
on the paved path
until there was a slope
I stood on the back brackets
for a bit
and the two of us
he laughed so hard
I got carried away
and went again
picking up too much speed
until we spilled out
in a dramatic crash
we were far enough away
from the rest of the gang
to get away with it
but my God
we were nearly sick


on the way home
everyone went quiet
looking out
at the hard yellow summer
minds in neutral
looping with the swifts

and then Michael sang!

really sang
like a chorister
a bell like voice

‘Oh Danny Boy
The pipes the pipes are calling’

everyone’s mouths fell open
by the time he got to
‘from glen to glen
and down the mountain side’
I felt the tears prickle

but when he sang
‘in sunshine or in shadow’
the heart gave way

he sang for all of us

Danny Boy
Photo by Mijkra on flickr

HC: Nov 2022