(I.P.) Portrait of My Father
Some time to kill...idly sitting
at an easel. Sable brush, hovers
aimlessly, above a sketchbook,
at a loss for inspiration; seeking
solace...of a kind. Distracted
by a presence – wafts the smell
of Erinmore; a meerschaum pipe,
smouldering in an ashtray. Hear
a familiar scratch of pen on paper.
Wishful thinking, perhaps – glimpse
his desk, reflected in the window;
head bent in concentration, intent
on finishing his latest history book,
a recent poem, or his memoirs.
Even a simple shopping list
he could transform into a sonnet...
until one night when fate intervened.
His fountain pen, his Schaeffer,
lies – redundant, on its rest; job
completed. I never did tell him
he was my idol; that my dream,
was to follow where he led, discrete
though his footsteps were. Too
many things I should have said.
His death, opened my eyes.
I realise, my future doesn’t lie
within the written word; more
a ‘broad brush-strokes man’ –
realistically. On my memory,
indelibly etched – his brow;
crinkled like a cabbage leaf.
Thus inspired, my paint-brush
moves on; with this I can write.
Outside, streetlamps blink alive –
flimsy, muslin drapes, waltz
and shimmy with the wind; a draught
from an open fanlight, maybe. Or
maybe, it’s him, crossing that line,
as Julius Caesar did...Traversing
his ‘Rubicon’, as he whispers,
a goodbye and his breath, falls
soft, upon my cheek.