You and Me, Pop; Whist and the Bird Tattoo
Just 90 years young or you would have been, Pop,
Had the fates been kinder – to people you knew,
Did you ever recall – the good times.
When TV blared in the family room, but…
Sing Something Simple – and you and me, Pop,
playing whist on those long winter nights.
Me and you, as the kettle rattled on the Aga hob.
Long walks, and leaning on the gate, where you counted sheep,
pointing your gnarled crook – as they cropped
with heads down and feet stamping,
and the dog, in frustration, herded ducks on the river.
He never caught but one.
That hay dust wheeze, even after the farm,
And your little blue pills beneath your tongue.
The laughter we shared – between you and me, Pop.
And that faded bird tattoo – how I recall you most.
A present from Rome, your spoils of war
Not a heron, you said, nor our Clan’s Tercel might.
It was lost in translation and the Grahams were tamed
Falcon was bluebird, ever searching white cliffs;
Our spiked rose to red sun topping pale lotus bloom,
more fitting your gentleness, in so many ways,
that I often wondered…
Did it become you, Pop? Or you all the while?
The jokes you played on your welsh maid, Annis,
King of wind-up, all po faced and serious
as you fed her line by teasing line…
You never fooled me, Pop.
Those twinkles in your eye – a sure sign every time.
Top brick off the chimney mother always moaned,
But she never understood us, nor ever tried I suppose.
You and me, Pop, you and me,
separated by wounded pride not our own
that festered into feud and fugue to be fed by fear…
and – we lost it all, you and me, Pop. Too late to make amends.
But Happy Birthday anyway and maybe the Downs remember.
You and me, Pop.
With our whist … and the bird tattoo.