by George Marsh

On 7th. November 1991 my father died. I walked by the shores of Langstone Harbour.

winter wind
two geese turn
a broad descending circle
and end
facing it
knowing how to touch down

At the wake my sons looked after me sweetly, talked of family memories and had me laughing. I returned to Langstone Harbour and watched the birds, and watched yachts on their moorings as fishing boats motored by.

I lift, judder
spin and settle
in your wake
water in the bay
no trace
of the splashy wing beats
low tide mudflats -
I breathe out
dense cloud
the colour of ashes
the sky is my father

One night, fascinated by the waves slopping inside a wreck with the life-force of the ocean:

Between the ribs
of the broken boat
rises the moonlit tide

In the New Year:

bright cold morning -
for breakfast let's open
the last of his marmalade!

On the anniversary of his death I stood on the ferry pontoon at Eastney Point, tasting the windblown spray:

grief, and breathing
the salty fragrance
of the deep tide drift

I revisited the Heath by the family home, where we scattered his remains:

under my foot
at every step
my father's ashes

I inherited a dusty oil portrait of my father reading a book, painted in the forties, with a rip in the corner, and I commissioned a friend of mine who is a conservator to repair it, clean it and frame it.

his portrait restored
my father
younger than me


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