Unsaid words

Going through stuff written over the years, I discovered a poem I had written for my Dad. Of course, I never told him that I had written a poem for him and he would have been embarrassed at the thought of such words. Neither of us were ever demonstrative in our expression of our feelings and after a lifetime of things being unsaid, it would have been difficult for either of us to have found the capacity to express what we wanted to say.

Dad’s health was poor for many years. He was invalided out of the Royal Navy in 1962 and, as a civilian, had continued his work as radio and radar technician on naval aircraft at RNAS Yeovilton.

Dad’s health was always better when he was at the seaside and someone somewhere determined that it would be beneficial to him if he worked at RAF Manby in Lincolnshire.

The postings to Manby, a station close to the Lincolnshire coast, would last weeks at a time and his absences were times that I hated.

I remember the eve of one of his departures and the tears I shed at the thought he was going away. In the Noughties, looking back on the pain of that moment, I wrote a poem I called Manby bound. The lines are of little literary merit, but I wish now that I had shared them with him.

You would not remember that day, now.
Going away again, was too much
for a five year old, uncomprehending,
his father’s departure.

The tears on that spring evening
as abundant as the rain
on Somerset moorland,
permeating everything, damp, cold.

Perhaps embarrassed, you walked,
through the barton, with its cloak
of mud and manure.
‘Let’s go up to the field’.

A cow stood, ankle deep,
amongst tufts of green.
Her calf tethered; twine
defining its world.

The ground sucked down the boots
of a small boy who wished
his grip on his father’s hand
might be nearly so firm.

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2 Responses to Unsaid words

  1. Timbotoo says:

    Very potent and evocative. It’s a pity that you didn’t get the chance to share it with your dad.
    The theme of unsaid words resonates with me since I lost my parents 15 years ago and wish that they were still here to tell them…

  2. Ian says:

    I don’t think Dad and I were ever very good at saying things. In these last few years, we communicated with goodbye hugs, something we had never done in earlier years.

    Perhaps the best we can do is to try to avoid the mistakes of the past and to say to people now the sort of things we wished we had said in the past.

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