Women Who Wait For Their Fathers
After “The Fathers” by Catherine Smith
If we arranged to meet
you'd set your clock for six,
catch the seven fifteen
to New Street, take a short cut
and be the first father to arrive.
While I waited, I'd blot my lipstick,
fidget with the cameo brooch
on my jacket lapel and order a pot
of strong tea, a macaroon
and, for you, wedges of genoa cake.
You'd wear a double breasted suit,
woollen overcoat, fringed scarf
and brown leather gloves fastened
at the wrists with black buttons.
You'd push open the door and call
Alright then, duck?
We'd hug and step back, my hands
warm epaulettes on your shoulders.
But there'll be no rendezvous.
I waited for you once before.
I was sixteen, sipped hot chocolate
by the window of the Kardomah
and watched you cross the road.
I half rose in my seat, a stranger
strode past and it wasn't you,
couldn't possibly have been you,
this pink cheeked man
who looked nothing like the image
whose eyes I mirrored.
The father who pulsed beneath my ribs
as I trod shop-lit pavements
and mooched towards bus stops,
breathed diesel fumes, the city's
cold air and grains of tobacco
snagged in your woollen overcoat.
Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working-class ‘50s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of UK magazines and webzines. Last year she self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad, who died when she was fourteen.