When I’m walking quiet roads I think about my old man,
who’s paler and quieter than I am.
He speaks in whispers, wind in the grass,
his words coming harsh in a Northern rasp,
rumbling in his throat before he speaks
so we know when he’ll talk once we’re sat down to eat.
His stunted sentences crawl in couples and never more,
like pairs of socks in a department store.
I think I learnt the art of conservation from my Dad,
which is partly why my discourse stutters and lags.
He normally avoids eye contact as well,
but looks at eyebrows instead so it’s harder to tell.
As a young boy I saw my father as a giant,
but as a young man I dwarf him when I’m standing pliant;
I passed him somewhere along the way,
but never thought it worth trying to explain.
Over years the distance between us kept growing,
and unless there was football on, showing.
I still hold my books the same way he does,
with one balancing paperbacks and the other free.
His right was always holding up his glasses,
yet he’d always been squinting as his novel passes,
reaching between chapters for the beer to his left;
We’re different in that I prefer cider – never drink Leffe.
My greying father finds colour in his clothes,
Christmases’ spent in jumpers too strong and too bold.
He always let my Mum choose the presents,
because he knew if he did then he’d regret it.
The Chelsea shirt he bought me for my sixth
was as good as he ever got at giving gifts.
That’s fine though, because I’d never mind,
and we always had the football on Boxing Day to help pass the time.
After our joint social chores were done,
we could speak comfortably, minimally, with the game on.
Come January I’d go back to school, he’d resume his long walks.
Now that I’ve moved South it’s been months since we’ve talked.
I know that it doesn’t matter as long as we’re both doing okay;
and even if we weren’t, it’s not in our shared blood to say.