Three Poems by Alwyn Marriage

As Good Dadhood culminates this Fathers’ Day weekend, the project to celebrate fatherhood closes with a fanfare of poems by Alwyn Marriage.

of hearts and hands

his hands
detached from any form
of domesticity

were never grimed in earth
or sheltering tiny moons of soil
beneath the nails

the softness I remember
was not the flab of soapy water
or chemical residue of washing up

I can’t recall a single scratch
or cut, the mild abrasions earned
by helping in the garden

despite the implications of all that
it’s still his hands that are
imprinted on heart’s memory

hands into which my childhood hand would slip
discovering the warmth, security and strength
he meant when he said God.

Home from home

In the garden there was an apple tree
in whose welcoming arms
I built a house made out of childhood dreams,

old, huge and branched into a thousand rooms.
It might have been a Blenheim or a Cox,
although, of course, I never thought to ask,

but every year it bore a crop of sweet and juicy fruit,
which to my unfailing annual astonishment
always caused a stomach ache if eaten when unripe.

In Spring my tree wore a scented robe
of palest pink and white that shivered in the wind
and scattered confetti on the ground below.

Hidden beneath green leaves it seemed to me
that no one knew my whereabouts or why
I was so late for meals and arrived with dirty nails.

My magic house contained a kitchen, bedroom, hall;
but far more comfortable was the study where I’d sit
for hours, as inaccessible as my father was in his.

Years later, my father dead and all my family
scattered into other homes, I passed the house
again and peered over a fence into the garden

where rooms still nestled in the open arms
of my ancient apple tree, but now looked smaller
and less commodious than when I was a child.

The old preacher

GS

For many years my father
had swayed his congregations,
moving them to tears and laughter,
and inspiring holiness.

When he was old and frail
he sat each day at the piano,
softly singing as he played
the ground-bass of his faith;

simple piety in melody and harmony
still firm despite the gathering gloom,
gems from his tattered hymn book
offered up as a form of prayer.

Earlier version published in Sarasvasti, 2017


Alwyn Marriage’s eleven books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and she is widely published in magazines, anthologies and on-line. Formerly a university philosophy lecturer and Director of two literacy and literature NGOs, Alwyn is currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. She gives regular poetry readings and workshops in Britain and abroad. Her latest poetry collection is In the image: portraits of mediaeval women and her latest novel is The Elder Race. www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn

Alwyn explains that her father was a clergyman and a fine preacher. When he was too old to preach, he continued to write a new sermon every week.

Special Editions 2020


When Good Dadhood first ran, back in 2017, it featured two Special Editions, in addition to the poems appearing on the ‘front page’ of the e-zine.  This year, we had much pleasure in again presenting an Easter Special, showcasing eight poems https://gooddadhood.com/easter-special-edition-2020/.

Now, as the 2020 Good Dadhood period approaches its culmination on Fathers’ Day on Sunday 21 June, it is a delight to present another Special Edition, featuring five wonderful poems from Patricia Ace, Zoe Mitchell, JLM Morton and Jenni Wyn Hyatt. To read their poems, please click on this link: https://gooddadhood.com/special-edition-ii-2020/

Also, please do check back here on Saturday for three poems for Father’s Day from Alwyn Marriage.

Meanwhile, here are two lovely photographs from Patricia Ace and Zoe Mitchell … with their Dads.

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Patricia and her Dad

Zoe with her Dad

Two Poems by Maggie Mackay

Bring Back Dad Blues

There he sits in dusk in his favourite chair
and the fiddle comes jigging, jigging,
his fingers drumming Carmina Burana,
baton-hand Beethoven strings,
head nodding in a dream within my dream.

Tobacco tang swirls across his eyes
slipping like melt. Golden Virginia, a gold packet,
crackles to life. There’s a library book open,
waiting to be read. He’s walking, walking to what counts.

Walk to me.
Forty years of seasons and ageing,
and a blackbird’s song.


My Father as a Zephyr

Lightest of all things,
he blows in light of a perpetual spring,
scatters the salty Clyde with early summer breezes,
with seaweed fronds on soft foam,
fruit of our childhood holidays.
His soft stirring smile greets aquamarine.
His wind-song dances on fiddle strings, sotto.
The west wind restores dear ones
with a tease, a coorie-in, a purr.


Previously published by Three Drops from a Cauldron and nominated for The Pushcart Prize, 2017/18



Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a poem in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem ­­­­­­­­with one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and the booklet ‘Sweet Chestnut’ published by Karen Little in aid of animal welfare. She is a reviewer for https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/

Maggie with her Father