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Sheila Jacob: a poem

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.

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