On a warm grassy bank we dined
on plain crisps and tepid lemonade,
watching him bent like a hook over the engine,
fingers enquiring at black aortic leads,
tugging and pushing, interrogating
intestinal hose for wounds and perforations.
At length he straightened slowly,
like a flower seeking the sun,
casually swept back into place
an undisciplined shock of dark hair,
before reaching through the driver's door
to conjure up a metallic scraping
until the engine bubbled into life
like a mountain spring.
We clambered back in, onto red hot seats,
argued over who sat in the middle,
and continued our summer invasion
into a land of strange names,
Somerton, Fritwell, Banbury, Bicester.
How could we have known, down the line,
there would be consolation in this,
and in a thousand other stories
of his triumphs and failures,
between then and now.
This one and final now.
This final quaking of his breath.