Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Pops - circa 1990
I'm sharing this poem because in 5 days it will be 18 years since my father died and this was written for him - my first reader/listener. (It's taken from my collection The Makings of You, published by the fantastic Peepal Tree Press in late 2010). Last week I felt a sudden urge to buy a whole bag of limes and I've been going through them fast. I rationalised it by telling myself I was forestalling any colds that may come, but today it suddenly struck me why; my internal clock was telling me to remember Pops - funny how the littlest things can bring one solace!


His pen moves as fast as darkness scatters.
Three fleshy creases mark his forehead
as he leans pensively forward
like a question mark filled with life.

The cocks have crowed; in the streets
brooms raise dust. I rise early

I want to be the first to see him
smile, see his small, white teeth
expose themselves without inhibition
like nudists on a beach of gums.

Pigeons gather… the sun summons
its light. I head outside.

I can see him before I see him;
yesterday’s paper to his left,
a pen in his right hand
and sheaves of paper awaiting stains

The dew rises like fleeting
possibilities in the new heat.

He’s waiting. I like the song he hums;
the tenor harmony of a Jimmy Smith solo.
Silent, he passes his clean mug to me.
We’ll talk between hot sips of tea.

The kettle boils; loaded
bubbles of speech waiting to burst.

I make two cups: black, no sugar
with half-a-lime squeezed in each.
His mouth forms a vaginal shape as he sips
the heat, the promise of a new day.

Something warm passes from father to son.
Silence becomes an enduring memory.

And this week, I buy seven perfect limes. One
for every new day. I will slice them in two
each morning, squeeze one half for me, and one
half into an empty cup. For the memories.

what i'm reading/listening to
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Mongo Beti
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