My Father’s Room
My father had an attic room where he did his books
when he wasn’t there I used to go and look.
There were scraps of paper torn off spiral pads;
auction house catalogues, text circled, pages dog eared,
reserve prices marked in code; a hard folding chair;
a splintered trestle table and always the smell of him.
Next to his room was a room full of books and bookcases;
books in them, on them and on the floor (my dictionary
a tiny Larousse covered in brown paper was my father’s
from prison camp).
I never sat in the book room when my father was there
I was afraid of him and anyway we weren’t allowed
when he was concentrating. He hated doing his books
but I think he liked being alone. I’d visit after he’d gone
as a way to be near him. Then I went to the book room
where so many abandoned stories gathered dust
until I opened them, powdering the tips of my fingers.
(from The Assay Smith/Doorstop 2010)