Monday, 10 April 2017

poetry 2017 / 053


A bull of a man, tall
as a door is high, muscles
heavy from working fork and spade
his vegetable garden set
row upon row of potatoes,
cabbage, beets. Racist by default
(fifties England encouraged it)
homophobic (couldn't understand)
and hold a grudge longer than time.

I only saw him cry when his wife died,
when his daughter changed religion
when his son turned out gay. He loved
the granddaughters he wasn't allowed to see;
the dogs who shared his life
and his bedtime tea; greenhouse fuchsias,
Dad's Army and the daughter who never left.

I remember his despair
when disease brought him low;
when his eyesight faded and his legs gave out.
I remember his laughter when the cat
was sick over his best friend; the whiskey in his tea,
the kisses he gave our mother
and the eternal, never discarded cigarette,
cupped in his palm to shield the embers
from an unseen sniper on the hill.

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