Present-absent Father

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

The memories are mixed:

Hot whiskies — the wintery waft of clove, lemon, Jameson steaming from the glass.

But then his hermetic, blood-squeezed paper-thin lips the evening he went on nights;

“Stop grigging me.”

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

Tweed caps, coins on eyes,

The perennial jokes.

“That’s my shrapnel wound from the war.”

It was a TB leg.

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

Coat pulled tight against the wind,

Forever wrapped up against the cold;

Geansaí (never a jumper), the funeral suits, the tank-like German shoes.

And that padlock: “‘Twill see me out.”

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

You’d come in from town and he’d be there in the kitchen,

Smoking a Carroll’s and reading the Irish Independent, one of the dogs at his feet.

In the smoke-filled room he’d pinch the fabric of every new purchase,

And afterwards declare its worth.

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

Desultory weeding of the lawn;

The old nick-bladed, wooden-handled knife.

Wearing his hipster jacket from 1950s Canada.

Watching till the bottom of the road, poking the grass, stopping and staring at every passer-by and greeting.

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleeping.”

 

In summer, the weekly cutting of the grass was a veritable harvest time,

Critical mass was needed for this occasion.

It was a family Meitheal: we all pitched in,

Raking and stuffing the grass into black bin bags.

“Why couldn’t he buy a proper lawnmower?” asked my mother.

 

The present-absent father;

There, but not really.

Night duty, dog, swing — shift work;

“Don’t make noise, your father’s sleepin

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About ucronin

Born in the country town of Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland in 1975, I now live in Madrid with my partner and two young daughters and work in a research institute. While I was always a hungry reader and harboured vague notions of being a writer, as a young man writing was the furthest thing from my mind; after leaving school, I did a B.Sc. in Biotechnology in Galway's NUI, an M.Sc. in Plant Science in University College Cork and a Ph.D. in Microbiology in the University of Limerick, the plan being to dedicate my professional career to scientific research. While having written extensively within my technical scientific field, I had never contemplated becoming a writer of fiction until a road-to-Damascus moment on the N69 between Listowel and Tarbert, Co. Kerry in the summer of 2011. Since then, most of my spare time has been occupied with writing. In whatever other free moments I have, I like to listen to music, play the guitar and garden (which here in Madrid means a lot of watering of plants and spraying for red spider mite). My ambition is to become as good a writer as I possibly can, eventually freeing myself from the cold clutches of science and earning a living through my scribblings. The type of writing that excites me is honest, intelligent, well-constructed and richly descriptive.
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