DAD NEVER ONLY CONSIDERS
the relevant part of a map.
When he gets lost, he stops the turn of the world,
at the entrance to the busiest junction,
sometimes, before a roundabout,
and unfolds a view of the globe
to its fullest extent to find his way.
Perhaps, at work, when he changes
one tiny part of the system he traces
its effect on a detailed draughted whole diagram of council offices, hospitals
or nuclear subs where he has installed
new heating waste management services.
And I at work or home cursed with the same
need for thorough deliberation,
find bosses, wives and workmates sigh
at my slow, detailed examination
of the blood, sinew and bones
of an issue, that had I rushed,
as when angry, only find confusion.
My dad and I bring the whole going on
of the rush, tumble and speed of earth
to a brief stop, as others
who wish to get on, hoot, cringe,
whistle and toot their dismay.
We ignore them all and quietly,
stubbornly, slowly map our way.
MY DAD TRIED TO KILL ME
When he taught me to swim
I was underwater
his massive torso was
I could not get any
My lungs ached
White, steaming big neck
swings like sail in full
horns razor sharp Madras cow
clanks down metal aisle
three funnelled merchant ship.
Dad, up from hot boilers,
his mate behind the beast
hits it with a stick, herds it
back to wooden corral
above the hold.
Heat, more flies than sweat,
Dad knew white monster
coal blistered face
nostrils hissing air
steam scream water
through pipes, pistons.
knew caress of its flank,
every flinch, flick, strain,
yawn of engine below,
only way to get there.
Indian cow sacred,
So are ships boilers
Eleven years old
I open my Dads teenage sketchbooks:
Cows sit down in HB pencil.
His Dad’s backyard full of tools.
Preliminary pencil sketches.
his female nudes.
Drapery hides modesty.
Details of green Clwydian hills,
rotted stump colours
ablaze yellows, ochres,
I want to draw, sketch,
I ask him for his other books.
He doesn’t have many.
Gives me all:
Alfred N. Whiteheads
‘Problems of Philosophy’
An Introduction To Immanuel Kant
The Poems of Rudyard Kipling.
He plays 33″ record of Dylan Thomas
‘Under Milk Wood’
so every side of my life
a quote from it in my head.
two stairs down from landing
sister and I safe
‘Neither half up, or halfway..’
hill/mountainside braced against icy
gust mam/dad below igneous lava erupt
at each other
two hills supported us till now
silence, lounge door opens mam climbs
and as she speaks
“Your dad and I have decided we cannot be together, anymore. You must decide who you want to live with.”
“I’ll do whatever you decide.” my sister says. I am eleven. She is nine.
solid rock expands
rock falls away making valley sides
sister and I stand on Striding Edge
razorback, serrated edge five years later
prevailing wind, ice brings wet eyes
we are with divorced dad hiking Helvellyn,
damp slips hands/boots,
Kevin Keegan Afro black sheep
fleece flops side to side
hiking boot midair,
to Red Tarn
somewhere in mist,
somewhere in mist sisters/dads hand
manoeuvre frozen legs, up,
. over, round,
shifting from one side edge
. to the other,
weeks with mam, weekends dad,
careful what you say,
. interrogation from both.
mist clears enough for summit sight.
time away at college. focus.
careful to have three rock holds. focus.
remember once summit reached
always another higher later.
my hands support sister/dad/mam
With each cough I feel his
vibration under my feet
in this green oak skeleton
whose Tudor beams bend and creak
my eighty year old dad says
” Got bad news. Lung specialist
says I once had 25
per cent larger lungs than most
people my age. Now its gone.”
“Is it getting worse?” I ask
feel the echoes of his tread
on the wooden boards. “Yes”.
“So, Dad, you’re going to die
I look out of priceless glass
Tudor windows “Possibly”.