Sunday, 27 May 2007

Father and Son.

I keep coming back to Titus,
Beloved son of the man who watched
Everyone die.

Fourth born but first to survive,
He’d seen Rembrandt’s rise
Yet he also saw both wives die
And heard the bailiff’s unwelcome arrival.

A witness to the master observer,
From the workshop’s corner
He’d learnt to measure a man,
How to shore up mortality
With hired furs and white collars.

And then

At twenty-six he’d married Magdalena
The gilded scales finally tipping,
A child on the way. At eight months,
Did the old man close his eyes in praise
Only for them to be prised open by a cough
As the plague claimed Titus.
Dead at twenty-seven.

Had this father looked at him
As if he were a mirror –
The boy who drew dogs so well –
Only to find no silvered glass,
Just an empty frame.
Nothing left to picture.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A Present From James

In my pocket, worn bright by daily touch,

I carry a conker. A strong brown nut from

My long legged boy who threw the stick,

Who kept his eye on where his target fell,

Who placed his heel on its spiked shell

And twisted with just the right weight

Before giving this gift to me.

"Look, dad," proud, he said "It's a good 'un"

Yes, son, a good one, the best. Proudly,

I lift my head at my desk, remembering,

As I stop before the reassertion of work

To see the neighbour's chestnuts sway.

Their conic blossoms like candles

On the most ornate of birthday cakes.

A promise of more fruit for next year

For children to covet and collect.

Other pockets to fill.