I read this poem at an open-air venue beside beautiful Lake Orta in Italy several years ago when Jane and I attended the Poetry On The Lake Festival, a prestigious annual event attended by leading figures from the world of contemporary poetry. It has proved an enduring favourite.
Crouching in attic gloom,
where skylight beams illuminate their pool of silver dust,
old leather suitcases doze like alligators
dreaming their prehistoric dreams.
They sleep soundly having eaten up my father’s life ...
the photographs, the hearing-aid and collar studs,
the safety-razor with its rusted blade,
and the wallet with the ticket stubs ...
yet I am so afraid
that when I kneel beneath the skylight
to prise apart those sagging, alligator jaws,
the life that I will find compressed within
will be too small
to match my memories of him.