This is how I remember
the four bedroom house, reduced
to a rope-handled box beside my bed:
the red Newnes Dictionary Dad bought,
thumb spaces for the alphabet, the fine paper,
the proverbs, ‘Bird in the hand,’ he’d say,
‘worth two in the bush, Dad.’
‘Never a borrower,’ he’d say,
‘or a lender be, Dad.’ He should have added,
‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ He didn’t need to.
I used to stand outside the betting shop,
his lucky mascot, dressed in red –
a double breasted coat and bonnet.
This is how I remember Dad: his efforts
to order and document life. He started a logbook
in 1967 recording news and the cost of foods.
In dad’s precise block capitals pressed into
invoice paper: Christiaan Barnard performs
the first heart transplant on Louis Washkansky.
1970: a loaf of bread, one and two;
a quarter of tea, one and four; the bill
for Joe the milkman, seventeen and six.
I leaf though black and white newspaper cuttings,
power cuts, three day weeks. Headlines in Franklin
Gothic: Divided Britain; Millions set to beat pay curb.
On a shelf beside my handwritten diaries,
Dad’s World Almanac Book of Who
with its spine split remains.