Dad’s Dibber by Sharon Larkin


Short and squat, a man in a cap,
rolled-up shirtsleeves, old trousers
encrusted with blood and bone,
boots dusted with powdered lime.

He bends double over the latest row
marked out with stake and string
to keep it straight, wields his dibber –
really a sawn-off fork handle –

swivels it into the tidy tilth
to make a little hole for a seed potato.
Later he’ll earth up the row
to encourage growth.

I watch, asking questions ‘what, why, what for?’
in the manner of a five year old –
each answer given
after measured thought:

“It’s a fertiliser. It keeps soil sweet.
Because straight is better than crooked.
Because each one I plant needs a little nest
to encourage it to grow up strong.

Because good Dads love their children”.


This poem came out of a workshop at Cheltenham Poetry Society’s Annual Awayday (writing retreat) in May.  The workshop, led by David Ashbee, used wood and wooden objects as prompts.  As I was writing my poems, I remembered my father’s dibber – hence this poem.  Thanks to Dave – and Dad – for the inspiration.


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Easter Special Edition

See the page at this link Good Dadhood Easter Special Edition for poems celebrating fathers – Dads loved,  Dads missed.

Poems and Poets in the special edition:

Changed – by Sarah J Bryson

Christmas Day 1941 – Angi Holden

Teasmade – Angi Holden

The Great Design – by Roger Turner

29.3.2011–Worcester   – by Sue Johnson

Snow in a Changed Light – by Nicky Phillips

That Year – by Nicky Phillips

Father’s Day – by Mandy Macdonald

cornered – by Mandy Macdonald

Daddy Gone – by Annie Ellis

What Passes Between – by Sharon Larkin

Daddy – by Sharon Larkin


d-c-g-jones-and-s-c-a-jonesHere I am, aged 5, with my Dad kneeling alongside me on a country walk. The photo would have been taken by mother; the camera was his. Later he would buy me my first camera and we would go for long walks with a succession of border collies, him teaching me the names of wild flowers and trees, us trying to learn the names of birds together. Small wonder that, half a century later,  when not writing, I’m outside with my camera.

Sharon Lakin