A Landscape Of My Dad (i) – (vi )



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.







When he taught me to swim
I was underwater

above me

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.
Come at

his female nudes.

Drapery hides modesty.
Details of green Clwydian hills,

mountains, landscapes,
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.

ice encrusts

solid rock expands

rock falls away making valley sides

sister and I stand on Striding Edge

razorback, serrated edge five years later

cold mist,

prevailing wind, ice brings wet eyes

we are with divorced dad hiking Helvellyn,

sandstone step


damp slips hands/boots,

Kevin Keegan Afro black sheep

fleece flops side to side

hiking boot midair,

sharp intake,

drop down

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

when sides

fall away



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

of asphyxiation?”

I look out of priceless glass

Tudor windows “Possibly”.

One thought on “A Landscape Of My Dad (i) – (vi )

  1. Pingback: A Landscape Of My Dad (i) – (vi ) | The Wombwell Rainbow

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