My father

My father was a lion.

When he was napping,

I relaxed into hitting golf balls

over the house,

with a wedge.

When he woke up,

he drank Bewley’s coffee

in the kitchen,

in front of the Aga.

He’d been shot with a bullet

in the left shinbone

by a sniper,

from the roof of Cleve’s Factory,

across the Shannon River

in 1921.

My father didn’t limp,

he wore brown brogues,

grey socks, and an Omega.

He was born before Fathers’ Day.

When I was young,

every day was mother’s day:

she wrote the rules,

he approved.

His drawing room game was chess,

his golf game twice a week,

followed by hands of forty-five.

I was his caddie.

He paid two and six pence,

and a bottle of orange lemonade.

Dad was a Chopin man

with straight-back hair,

his forehead marked

from the day a surgeon

drilled into his scull,

and he lost his sense of taste.

He shaved with a cut-throat,

wore cuff-links

and turned shirt collars

in the old days,

before I was born.

His scapular was Franciscan,

from the Third Order.

He insisted on accurate light readings

for family photographs,

his Leika was slow.

Dublin was “the Big Smoke”

where he bought pipes.

What was the name of the plug tobacco?

He recited “Dangerous Dan McGrew”,

“The Hound of Heaven”

and decades of the Rosary.

My father was a Pioneer,

drove a Ford Capri

for a year,

carried cash to the Munster & Leinster,

and ate tripe on Fridays.

My father, carnivore,

carved the meat.

He made sure

we all got second helpings.