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

Microbiologist, brewer, writer, fan of James Joyce, guitar player and gardener, U. Cronin was born in the county town of Ennis, Co. Clare. He's spent much of his adult years moving country — between Spain and Ireland — and at present he is to be found back in his native town. Author of five novels and working on a sixth, U. is back in the lab and engaging his passion for looking for bugs using very bright lasers. Let's hope it turns out well!
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