Where my father went
Years after you died, I crept up the secret driveway.
All was still, the garden overgrown,
the gates of the old garage, closed.
You had another place to be,
a space where you could leave much of yourself behind,
forget the roles that you like anyone were forced to play.
Here, hidden behind another person’s house,
beside a greenhouse in an L-shaped garden,
you no longer had to be anybody’s father,
brother, soul-mate, employee,
or conscientious man with high ideals.
Only your small son went with you,
never my mother or my sisters, only me.
Here you would mend the car,
get your hands black with grease,
and tinker with a dozen metal bits and mechanical pieces.
How hard it was to get your big hands clean again.
The scent of grease seemed impossible to remove.
And my hands still white and innocent,
not being the car-mending type.
And when you died so suddenly,
no more rent was paid,
no one went back to save those tools
or greasy bits of metal, not even once
to open the creaking doors of the secret place
where you were once so happy.
Roger Turner is the current Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society, and co-runs Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham. Roger was originally an architect and a garden designer. His greatest claim to fame on the garden design front was to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in the 1980s. He also has an MA in Religious Studies. He is the author of five books, on garden history, garden design and plants. He has had 80 or so poems published in a range of reputable poetry magazines.