Sunday, 10 June 2018

A Life in Short Pieces: A Daughter's Tale

A Life in Short Pieces: Piece Three. 

My father died when I was eight years old. I have missed him in
spurts on rites-of-passage days,  feast days and holidays for the whole of my life. 

But I miss him with a child’s perception. The child’s  perception is acute and long-lived. This piece contains the essence of my residual feeling for him.

A Daughters Tale

Remember how we walked along, you and me,
Your giant’s hand holding up mine, your  
long fingers poking inside my woollen sleeve?
Remember the nights she left for work -
you read the paper as I scaled your knew
and settled birdlike into that rustling space.

Remember how we cut out pictures
and pasted them into the Panjandrum book.
Remember how you told us stories –
your voice going up and down
like a red rocking horse
singing the story into the air.

Now look at our own youngest boy -
two generations down the line -
standing tall for Tai Kwan Do,
white clad and obliquely Oriental -
or cricket-ready, complete with face-guard.
This one can be pedantic. Like you. Like me.

A long lifetime ago, when
I passed your dying age of thirty seven
it dawned on me how very young
you must have been,  
when you abandoned
your life and mine.

At that time, to my childhood self
you really did seem very old. I had no way then
to process the despair that dug
so deep inside me. And I learned for the first time -
but not the last - to endure deep nameless hurt
in silence.

Note: It has just occurred to me that I plumbed the childhood depths of this experience when I created Demelza – ‘you can call me Dee’ – who elects not to speak at all in my novel The Bad Child.

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