My Father’s Boots

If I could try my father’s boots,
or maybe wear his shirt,
perhaps I could get inside
his head, to see what made him.

I might find out why land became
such an open prison, why
there was so much freedom
in dreaming of the sea.

I could revisit teenage years
of war torn education, learning
lessons of survival and desire;
living life, on your terms, in your time.

How many places, spaces,
women, bars and jazz clubs
made up shore leave, as you sweated
in engine rooms around the world?

Too much to hope in retrospect that
we could see eye to eye, too many
dreams undone by childish caterwauling;
it was a bad start.

Almost fifty years now since your dying
I contemplate a young man staring
from a faded frame, in a bar
beer in hand, almost smiling.

I inherit a certain look beneath the brow,
your vanity, atheism and persistence.
Even jazz begins to call, a kind of blue note,
lingering in the air for your approval.

Steve Bishop


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