Tim Vrtiska CC
Saving his Brogues
He’d saved his brogues for best,
didn’t even use them for their
original design, to let the water drain
from his shoes when out on the bogland.
Not even when out on the Glenamoy blanket bog,
where his wife fetched the cows as a girl,
sheltering on the Sliabh Fiadh
beneath the Heffer’s gap.
Didn’t know that was what the Brogues were for.
My dad would not wear them,
not even to visit his sister Jo and her Bill.
He was never called upon for social
occasions of any kind with his
brothers, still skulking unseen in Peterborough,
or wherever the hell they are above ground.
We left dad’s Brogues on him, I like to
think, before the casket closed to his brothers
for good, by the time they deigned to see him
put in the ground up Bluebell Hill.
His brogues were for weddings,
for Saturday night dancing over at the
St Mary’s Social club. The dancing stopped
for him soon after Chatham dockyard shut
in 1984. So I couldn’t walk in the wake
of his steps to an apprenticeship there,
couldn’t follow him away from school
when he drifted down to Plymouth, to
the Devonport dockyard where his heart failed him.
Couldn’t follow back up to Blue Circle cement
and then wherever he grafted, unseen, until he
spent his last lonely days crawling the hills of
Chatham as a postman.
I know I’m supposed to say something
about the way my father died alone.
But the words that would describe him
clog and scald my throat.
Can I describe the way he was left to drift?
His lungs crystallised full of asbestos, and his
broken body blooming full of
who knows what else.
I remember his legs,
bruised an unnatural colour.
The cuts that never healed.
He’d been a track athlete, once.
He’d been given medals, once.
Once through those gates, my
dad was just another fitter.
A marine fitter, a nuclear fitter.
A submarine man.
He was an anchor dropped
into the Medway,
without his ship.
I lied about his brogues.
The last time we found him
all he had left were trainers.
Soft, dirty trainers that didn’t hurt
his swollen feet so much.
We bought black shoes
for best, for his last journey.
They were not his nice brogue shoes.
My mother could not find them.
SM Jenkin is a Chatham born poet, blogger and short story writer. A regular on the poetry scene in Medway, with work published in anthologies including Medway Mermaid, City Without a Head, Medway Festival Fringe, All Sorts and Unexplored Territory. SM is a regular contributor to the ME4Writers collective including the Assemblance Of Judicious Heretics litart projects and writes for WOW Kent online. SM finds inspiration in the hidden histories and beauty of Medway, and in the works of speculative fiction writers such as Angela Carter and Kim Stanley Robinson. Picture courtesy of Marilyn Simpson
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