Son, I walk the airways of your lungs.
The diurnal trek, surgical hook and lancet
in hand, headlamp burning a path—
the tissue of the breathe-way,
clothed and double-coated,
the stalactites of mucus,
the bronchial tree.
At night while you’re asleep,
I listen for the rattle in its leaves;
the wet cough I’m to keep at bay,
the infections and infractions
for which I punish myself:
the lackadaisical defence;
the taking you into public
where people don’t cover their coughs;
where the bronchial tree—inverted as it is
with tracheal trunk—takes feed
from its roots, like any tree.
Luke Best was born in Toowoomba where he lives and works. His poetry has been published in literary journals including Overland, Verity La, Concrescence, Mascara Literary Review and Tincture Journal. His manuscript Percussion was Highly Commended in the 2017 Thomas Shapcott Prize. Luke’s verse novel Cadaver Dog won the 2019 Thomas Shapcott Prize and is due to be published by UQP later this year. www.lukebest.me