Thursday, 11 February 2010
Two more poems from the 'My Fathers' set in Reel
My father, crawling across the floor
He crawls across the floor. His dangling tie
Distracts the child. He hauls the child in the air
And swings it round, once, twice. He holds it high
Above his head. In the forest, a bear
Lurches towards the cabin. Almost night.
Goldilocks sits in the deepest chair
By the table working up an appetite.
Time starts up, judders and stops again
Its flooded engine refusing to ignite.
We’re conked out here, stuck in the slow lane
Of history, where my father comes home late
From work as always and will not complain.
Seventy-two hours he labours for the state
Weekdays, Saturdays, doing what, why, how,
We do not ask him, but accept his fate.
Time is forever in an endless Now
Except in dreams, anxieties, and school,
Though time ticks over far behind his brow
According to a superimposed rule
We touch when we touch him. We hear him roar
In distant forests where his masters drool
And lumber playfully across the floor.
My father carries me across a field
My father carries me across a field.
It’s night and there are trenches filled with snow.
Thick mud. We’re careful to remain concealed
From something frightening I don’t yet know.
And then I walk and there is space between
The four of us. We go where we have to go.
Did I dream it all, this ghostly scene,
The hundred-acre wood where the owl blinked
And the ass spoke? Where I am cosy and clean
In bed, but we are floating, our arms linked
Over the landscape? My father moves ahead
Of me, like some strange, almost extinct
Species, and I follow him in dread
Across the field towards my own extinction.
Spirits everywhere are drifting over blasted
Terrain. The winter cold makes no distinction
Between them and us. My father looks round
And smiles then turns away. We have no function
In this place but keep moving, without sound,
Lost figures who leave only a blank page
Behind them, and the dark and frozen ground
They pass across as they might cross a stage.
Before setting off for London. Just one poem for the funeral itself - the one from the same set that I'll put up tomorrow. C will read it, not me.