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What my father gave me

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Carlos Botelho, My Father, 1937

To have    To hold

My father gave me
our mother’s engagement ring
on my 18th birthday morning
with the photograph she’d kept
of Rupert Brooke,
his floppy tie, good-looking face.
Dad gave me too
my mother’s poetry
in that notebook
with a black and shiny cover,
handwritten words
to re-create a presence
where her absence
was the norm.

– Lerys Byrnes

My father and I worked quietly together.
We would take on the load    touch up the mask
saying too little to each other.
So it was always from others
                        that I heard his best stories....
like the man who said
my father took three mice under his cap
                                       on the first day of school...
and a friend's uncle  
who told me that my father paid
            his entry fees to churches in Jerusalem.
He was a Christian
said my atheist father      alive with pleasure
                                                            at the memory
eating his heart out in the Holy Land
           sending all his army pay back to his wife.
So I had stories
wove them into eulogy   wondered
if it were praise enough for a quiet hero.
His photograph
hangs in my study now   watching me write
sharing the silence.
– Flora Smith

Lerys Byrnes

Lerys Byrnes has poems published in a range of literary magazines in Australia and overseas.  She is a teacher and learner in Adult Education.






Flora Smith

Flora Smith, whose poems appear in Sandfire (Sunline Press), draws inspiration from her love of travel combined with a life of language teaching and her fascination with people.





Image: Carlos Botelho, My Father, 1937 (Wikimedia Commons)

Topic tags: Lerys Byrnes, Flora Smith, Australian poetry, family, memory



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Existing comments

Reading your poems reminded me that my father has also given me so many gifts. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your fathers.

Jo | 12 May 2015  

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