Daragh Byrne

Daragh Byrne

Last Time Ghazal

All those forgotten finales. I can’t remember when I rode
a skateboard, say, or rolled a cigarette for the last time;

paddled a kayak; fortified a treehouse. Or signed a binding
contract: I blank on the detail of childhood pastimes

and adult obligations alike. A podcast said that I should pour
my coffee/butter my toast/wipe my arse as if it were the last time

I ever would, and I agree, but I don’t think that I’d remember
any better. Some things stay, though. Like the last time

I saw you, months after we separated — standing at pedestrian lights,
eyes at a side angle. I couldn’t read your face. You glanced past mine -

my body quickened, moulding to its shape near the end —
steel jaw, full clench, belly-fire gone cold, long past time

to leave — but I did, or you did, and when that yo-yo string snapped,
I spent a long year inside myself, contemplating lost time,

until, by and by, I took root to rise, like the oak that I’m
named for, ready to live again as though it were the last time.

Highly commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize (2021)