Sunday, 17 June 2012


a strongman you say.
home from work would stetch his arms
and hang his five sons on them
turning like a roundabout.
a carpenter who could punch nails
into wood with his clenched fist,
chest like a barrel with a neck
that was like holding onto a tree.

in the final hour
your hands between the sheets
to lift him to the lavatory
slipped under a frame of bones like plywood.
no trouble - he said. no trouble dad -
you said. and he died in the cradle of your arms.

This poem byTony Curtis explores the way the relationship between a parent and child changes through life and the way that we can often see a role reversal with the child becoming carer and the parent becoming weak and dependent. It is also a bit of a tear-jerker, especially the last line with the description of the "cradle of your arms" reminding us of the way parents cradle a newborn child.  Increasingly the concept of Father's and Mother's day is recognised as problematic because not everyone has happy memories of their childhoods or their parents, particularly those who have suffered abuse or neglect, and many children grow up with absent fathers. I am not sure that is in itself a reason to stop celebrating parents but I like the fact that this poem is about the strengths and vulnerablites we all share when we are nutured by and care for others.

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