Memories of Dad

Thin hair on end and rosy cheeked
after a speedy ride in his Daimler,
A kind of pride and joy
Polished into his skin.
Brown back sweet sweat digging,
Sunshine and muscle,
New potatoes and
Wigwams of beans.
Endless summer harvest of
Sour un-child-friendly fruit;
Gooseberries and blackcurrants
Piled high in palms staining his earthy long fingers blue;
Whilst my own tiny hands pushed secrets into the dark
Caves of an ancient wall
And rummaged in thorny corners for
Broken bean poles, held aloft by my brother,
“Look Daddy how high I can jump”
On a nicely mown three-quarters of an acre lawn
With scent more delicious than
Strawberries, and a mower permanently coughing on tent hooks
And clothes pegs.

An always cold Norman church
(“Like Siberia” said Mum)
With an adored and ardently addressed history:
Fund for bells
Fund for roof
Fund for windows
Stained with the coloured passion
Of Christ and
Dad there,
Pride and belief
And holding his hand
Next to me, always him.
Night time prayers
"God Bless Mummy and Daddy and Nana and Pippi and Bur"
A mantra stuck for more than a lifetime
And offered to, but politely refused, by
My own son.
Occasional angry doors shut in an adult world of discussion
And uninterpretable mumblings.
And sudden escape into the smell of hot cars
A shiny black Peter Rover
And cramped camping holidays to France.
Sometimes returning home to Wales and
The oddness of two households
With night time parental partings,
Dutifully to stay with each Blood Mother.
The sense of adventure
Packaged in deep sleepy security.
The weekend tinkering with car exhausts
And oily soap bubbles in the green sink.
Nagging hurry ups for Saturday trips to the sweet shop
For lusted after grape-flavoured gum
And a quarter pound of Everybody's mixture;
Groans at Dad's over-cautious parking
(The other side of town) and a sighing half mile walk uphill
To bulging cheeks and Nirvana.
The lost moments of searching for mum in the can-lined supermarket
And a fascination for shopping trolleys with orange trim.
The loud classical music
booming through our house
On Sunday morning mixing with the delicious smell of roast
And an impatient yelling belly and bored teenage glances
At the colour supplement.
Week day everyday “Bye my darling” 7.55am
And cornflakes
To return with punctuality to liver and mash
And the news at 6.
Strict telly rules
But none for Tchaikovsky
And bed at 8
Slazenger whites
And huge green flash
Plimsolls and new carpet
Smell of tennis balls
And the eventual phone always ringing requests.
Regular visit of dog collar
Thought god
And meetings of the elders
Thought wizards
And kings.
Little eyes peering in
At a cerebral adult world.

The shed
Black with creosote and
Full of cobwebs and dust
A floor as soft as the Sahara
And unexplored and dangerous dark corners
A place for pigs and ponies and
Home-grown mushrooms
A place of dens and cut fingers
And stolen adolescent kisses.
The forbidden crawl along the roof
Always warm with melting tar
To see Dad
Nailing twice yearly galvanized tacks
Into upturned corners and soft-sounding rips.
A helping hand accepted if lucky
And seeing the garden with new eyes
Up here
Down there
And wondering about an acrobatic hold and swinging off the phone wires above
And a queasy preoccupation with
And cat-calling Mum or brother
“Hellooooooo, guess where I am?”
Running hands over
Old charcoal bones
Teetering on the edge of extinction
For years
Then crumbling to half its size and then eventually nothing,
Only to be resurrected in garage shelving
Or alarmingly quick fire
Wood supply.
And endless wondering about the sandy desert floor
And the ghosts of guinea pigs
And gold fish,
Tiny bones
Absorbed and forgotten
Into flower beds.

(October 2009)