A Father’s Hands
A grip that made your eyes water.
A fist that floored many an opponent
with a straight jab or an uppercut.
You shook the hand of Paul Robeson,
survived a torpedo blast,
clinging for hours to a boat splinter,
reached into the depths and pulled
a spluttering dripping boy ashore.
Care-free and convincing you
ignited a love that would burn forever,
gave away a precious daughter.
fashioned beauty from a block of wood.
Though memory and cognition stolen,
even in that last breath you gripped
and made my tears flow.
I was entitled to my mother’s name,
but I chose to ditch it,
not because I wasn’t proud of it,
more because you committed to him,
and like you, I took his name.
He was your one true love,
he was my one true father.
I could have had a hyphenated,
It sounded far too pretentious.
I got bullied for taking his name,
though I was proud to have it.
I preferred to walk home with a bloody nose,
than kowtow to name-callers.
He wore a red tie, when a shirt was needed.
We all wore red ties at his funeral.
‘Ihe newspaper report focussed on this,
referred to him as ‘Red Joe’.
I just called him Dad.
He never gave up on any cause,
he thought was worth fighting for.
When I was working I had to
wear a suit, shirt and tie.
These days, the need for such
is extremely rare.
Whenever I do, I always
try on the red tie first,
with the Windsor knot he taught me.
I don’t care whether you wear a red tie,
or no tie, at my funeral, but I II
be wearing one and I know
what colour it will be.