I still see you now, standing behind the counter
in your shop coat, with your eye on the scales,
deducting a copper or two from the price
for the poor, regaining it from the rich.
I can still see the columns of figures
so neat and accurate in your ledger,
your unfailing grasp, not only of numbers,
but of economics and politics, far
exceeding mine. You were not much older
starting work as a grocer’s delivery boy
than I was going to the Grammar School.
I try to imagine you, your face pale
under your flat cap, your frail body
battling with the bicycle’s heavy frame.
After university I became
a teacher; you both thought it would be easier
than the life of a nurse or a small town grocer.
My ledgers were mark books, attendance registers,
the many pointless records governments demanded,
my customers often recalcitrant.
As time went on I found my satisfaction
in helping students who were disadvantaged
to realise potential they scarcely knew they had –
trying, just like you, Dad, to balance the scales.
Jenni Wyn Hyatt was born in Maesteg but now lives in Derbyshire. She writes serious and humorous poems, also short forms such as haiku. Her father,
Edgar Williams, 1905 – 1965, worked as a grocery assistant, grocery manager
and wages clerk before finally owning his own shop.
See also Jenni’s poem ‘You walk me on your feet’ which featured in a Special Edition of Good Dadhood in 2020