I catch the cloth’s four corners, shake our crumbs
out to the night. We have eaten, little,
dutiful; we will seek brief sleep in shifts.
The sombre table’s cleared, that long-worn
regimen – but his trademark silver soup spoon
(large) and serviette ring (filigreed,
engraved with C.H.D.) lie in the drawer, unused.
A sugar-water teaspoon now is all he needs.
God speed the weary to their rest. Godspeed.
My mother’s gone to bed. I am left
with the final kitchen rituals,
the words swirling in my head, putting out
the light. But I have silent company –
as I reach for the switch, there he is, perched,
the length of my thumb, carved emerald,
a piece of luminous machinery.
I let him be. God’s creatures in this place
in disarray enough, why harry him?
And I didn’t think of him again
till the breaths we’d held were breathed,
till the night’s huge work was done.
Then, I wanted to step out to the street,
see the first of the dawn alone,
but there on the lintel’s pure white gloss –
wee mannikin of burning green,
a valiant jumper in the grass of June,
poised still here in our capsized autumn house.
How steadily, in those dark hours
he must have made his way. I ushered him out,
my fellow traveller. Let him leap,
take wing. Sat in the wide and quiet street,
watched the sun from the east, as the day sank in.
RIP Charles Harwood Dixon
15 January 1926 - 21 March 2002
The daffodils come tumbling
down the slope, yellow avalanche nudging
the windows of the Byre:
'Let us in! We've been firing poets up
since before you were even a bairn!'
They've spring to burn, my father's favourites.
All of London's parks were splashed
with their bright tides as we raced past,
throats tight with fear and love and knowing
this was it, to catch our sudden flight.
Each flared and fluted nod a tiny semaphore
of this depleted decade's words, what-might-be-
said, the here-no-mores. My echoing spring,
my mother's muted autumn in the south.
I tell her of St Andrews' daffodils.
That's nice – but she hasn't had bulbs in
since Cynthia sent the hyacinth, back then –
so dear, and they don't last.
There's yearning in the things we almost say;
it's off-hand, at a tangent, that she shares
the most. Last time at home, the sum of it:
Each day I miss your father more.
St Andrews, Scotland, March 2012