Heirloom

Kate Fox

I wasn't entitled to my father's name
but I asked to keep his hat.

The circle of his skull
must have been narrower than mine
but pulled tight down
the trilby sits securely on my crown.

Woven with grey wool
in billowing mills where he bought and sold.
Inside, a yellowing label
"Dunn and Co Gentleman's Outfitters,
Duraform".

My father carried orders back from the Orient
for three quarters of the wedding dress material
brought into Britain in 1975.

His wife hosted dinner parties for the board.
His secretary did the filing.

His wife bore him a son
His secretary bore him a daughter.
His children share a birthday, eleven years apart.

My half brother joked our Dad must only have one fertile day a year
the first time we met
His wife said it meant they could never forget.

I knew my father never had.
"I've waited seventeen years for you" he says as we hug for the first time

"Blood's thicker than custom" he adds in the Smiths Arms.
His hat, Embassy Number One, his pint
defying the country club gin swiggers
who'd called him a jumped up council school nothing.

His, the smoggy Bradford of Titus Salt and hot factory furnaces
Mine, the sandblasted city of David Hockney and hot aloo sags.

So many threads to draw together.
Only sixty days.

"Better out than in" said the intensive care nurses cheerfully
as yellow fluid from his lungs
spiralled round the breathing tube.

then it stopped spiralling.

Now, the further from Bradford I move,
the more rooted there my vowels stay.
and sometimes I wear his trilby.

Even when years have passed
it will always, almost fit.



Kate is a news broadcaster on Galaxy Radio and well known on the comedy circuit. Over the last twelve months she has turned more towards poetry. Kate's brand of stand up poetry is winning her a big following.

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Heirloom © 2004 Kate Fox: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.


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This page last updated 10th February 2005