Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

At The Fringe, Edinburgh

It seems, now, I will never find
your shoes, father, let alone fit in them,
though I still hope to follow the cold trail
of adventure in your smile, your spark
that landed me here, where
even though I am a father in my turn,
my footing is far from certain.

Rumours rustle in the visible
branches of my family tree. An uncle
traced you, found a married man. But no
he did not (or maybe it slipped his mind).
A cousin heard you might have lived in Medicine Hat ––
Medicine Hat! Such a marvellous name
I tried it on for size, for a while.

A French Canadian soldier, my mother said,
neglecting to mention which war
claimed you, so I grew up thinking
World War Two, realising eventually
it ended a decade too early.
Tentative questions raised that flicker of pain,
slaps from a self-interrogation.

Have I other half-brothers? Sisters?
How many of your whip-tailed seeds made it home?
I suppose you’re gone now, burned
or buried, dog-tagged in stone,
but until I can mark, encircle
wherever you hung your hat, you’ll remain
enchanted, undead, prone, your face

furiously shifting and running, fast-
forwarding weather, the everyday
sky convoys, sea’s military colours,
crowd-faces in the street, on TV, armies
of old men –– all and none
remind me of you. My known
unknown, how have you shrunk, grown?

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