I watched my father stooping on the path
to pick up all the rotten plums that fell
and made the old dog fart before the fire.
I took him to the place I used to dwell,
showed him all four corners of the forest,
took him to the shed that we might lunch
among the cobwebs and old tins of paint.
I tried to tell him where I had gone wrong,
tried, while breaking bread upon my knee,
to tell him he’d been right, right all along.
He smiled, while brushing down some fallen crumbs,
and said he must get back to clear the plums.
Now as the day recedes into the past,
I watch my father stooping on the path.
I want to know more, said M. Tell me about these plums of yours.
Not mine, I said. My father’s.
Your father’s then, said M., rustling some papers on his desk. Your father’s plums, do tell me please all about your father’s plums. It may help you get to the heart of things.
I’d like that, I said.
Yes, said M. Like a lettuce.
A lettuce? I said.
Yes, the pure white heart of a lettuce, crisp, firm.
There were no plums, I said.
No plums? said M.
That’s right, I said. No plums.
Pity, he said. I’d like to have talked about plums.
There are no plums upon the ground at midnight. There is only the silver path, swept of leaves, purple stained in blotches. Look! We can walk along the path together and into the quiet of the summerhouse.
I’d like that, said M.
[originally posted 16 June 2013 – the second part was added later. I have no idea who the inquisitor ‘M’ is or what this means, other than it demonstrates my opinion that lyric poetry inevitably contains fictive elements. It was written shortly after my father’s death but has little to do with my actual real-life father. After all, there were no plums.]