My Dad

I'm not sure I've been a Dad myself for long enough to have useful insight into my own Dad's parenting. Instead, I'd like to share this poem my Dad wrote (see his website), about his own relationship with his Dad.

On the motorway
Lonely on the motorway, the light
Fading fast and eighty miles to go,
I conjure ghosts to travel with tonight
And see you there, your cigarette aglow,
No different for fourteen years of death,
And neither of us wholly at our ease,
As if we went to speak, but held our breath,
The way it always was. At last, to please,
'Nice car' you say. I shrug, indifferent.
You know we've judged life otherwise again,
But for now for once I see your good intent
And what it overlies, the hidden pain.
We never talked. I know you wanted to.
I drew my silent pentacle around.
It would have hurt too much to let love through.
Too late, I'd ask you in now to my ground.
'I never understood…' A silent touch.
The darkness turns. 'Was it like this for you:
That all you did seemed never to be much,
But what you did was all that you could do?'
You nod. 'I'm sorry.' 'Don't be. Children learn.
You think love's ever wasted?' Something bright.
The cigarette is gone, next time I turn.
I travel on, alone again, through night.

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