It’s a sadness to me that I seem to understand my father better now than I did when he was alive.
I’ve addressed our relationship several times in poems and find, having reached an age approximating his own when he died, that I’ve gained a greater insight into the distant, caring man who was my father.
He was born in 1907 into an era of rigid hierarchies and unchallengeable rules, and became a parent at a time when the most profound social changes were taking place in society.
Conflict with a wayward son, eager to embrace those changes, was inevitable and was never entirely resolved.
The passage of time leaves nothing unaffected: even a rock will change shape through time's ministrations.
I like to think that were we able to meet now, my father and I, sitting like bookends on some imaginary park bench, we would be less at odds and, indeed, might find we had much in common.
My father’s shop-front bore his name,
W. FLEMING and the word, FOOTWEAR.
Gents boots and shoes; an honest trade.
It was enough, he always said.
He never wanted SON up there.
For me, a better, higher aim.
Twenty-five years dead, he sleeps fast
in covetous earth, unaware
of what became of his firstborn,
who went his way and does not mourn
his father’s choice. Who can compare
lives: my pen, his shoemaker’s last?