Walking through this sunken film set, I see
the departed ones dozing in their chairs.
Grown into their roles, these bit-part actors
hamming their way through the shopping channel’s
clearance sale – each snore a refusal to
return and take a bow. The elephants
by the door have gills, mouths blowing bubbles
like ideas around the room. I sit down
and stroke Dad’s hand – his veins as membranous
as the scales of a magnificent fish –
while nestling in the crook of Mum’s arm.
The TV’s an aquarium at rush-hour:
our faces balloon against the glass. I
will not wake them even though I wish
for one last harpooning of the air, one
more climb up that cascading, ascending
stair. For no word from me will reach them. Safe
beneath the sea where the dead can breathe.

James Dowling hails from England and teaches at a university in Seoul. A number of his poems have appeared in Eunoia Review.

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