My Fathers Room
My father had an attic room where he did his books
when he wasnt 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 fathers
from prison camp).
I never sat in the book room when my father was there
I was afraid of him and anyway we werent allowed
when he was concentrating. He hated doing his books
but I think he liked being alone. Id visit after hed 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.
1962, if not later.
He had a black radio.
He carried it in his arms
but it was supposed to sit
on the sideboard.
He carried it because of
the reception and the reception
made him very angry,
Bordel de bordel de bordel.
We sat at the kitchen table,
having dinner time.
He pressed his ear
to the black fabric speaker.
Static cut at us
above the actualites
and I couldnt swallow food.
Years later I saw footage
of how people listened
to the news during The War,
drawn up close to the radio
with frozen expressions.
Now hes 80
and puts CNN on,
loud, over and over again.
Things are important
and require his full attention.
His hammer smashed items
which were going to the melt.
Gutted fob watches,
unhinged cigarette cases,
coffee pots stripped of solder,
jangled in old mail bags
because of the high price of silver.
Sometimes thered be silence
and Id hear, I need to taste that.¸
I watched, as he droppered acid,
like a condiment onto an entrée dish
or an epergne expecting his gold incisor
to bite down, while his gigantic hands
held the (as yet intact) antique like a sandwich.