A Poem for my Father

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To Dad with Love


There are so many wonderful things I've learnt from you.

I want to remind you of a few.


You taught me that reading didn't end with Jack and Jill

And that books would open a world of wonder for me.

I got the message....and you made me a bookworm costume

For the carnival.

You traced my ancestry back to Ur of the Chaldees

With a bit of a detour in Poland.

You taught me to be kind to tramps

And to give a penny to the RNLI.

I went door to door with you

Raising money for Hungarian émigrés

(One of whom later became my surgery boss.)


You taught me to let dogs smell my hand before I patted them

And that circuses were cruel to animals.

You gave me 'thinkabouts' before bedtime

To keep the nightmares away

And that's the first time I heard of Fleming

And the discovery of penicillin.

You made swords of rolled up newspaper

For back garden jousting events

And a local post office from a cardboard box.


You saw the scientist underneath the Romantic

And together we looked for badgers at night

Gazed at stars

Watched a total eclipse through photographic film

Made copper sulphate crystals in the cellar.

 I helped you construct a nine foot pram dinghy

To ferry a family of six--

Developing a permanent aversion to linseed oil.

You made me a long jump and a high jump

Built an igloo and brought cocoa to sip

In my warm snow cave.


You taught me to aspire

Like the fairy atop the Christmas tree

To have an enquiring mind

And be an independent thinker.

You taught me to live life as an adventure

Borrowing courage and faith from Colum Kiel.

You taught me that the love of the Lord

Is a lamp for my steps

A light for my path.


You taught me to brave the elements

To add a stone to the cairn

And never to set off down an untracked hillside

In the late afternoon.

You taught me to belay and to cast off

To read the winds and the tides

To pitch a tent

And not to forget my anorak.

(I still don't forget my anorak).


You instructed me in the political philosophy

Of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky,

Gave me a banned book by Prince Kropotkin

Imparted to me a thirst for justice

Nurtured my prophetic spirit.  


You taught me not to lie

To stay out of debt

And that swearing is more effective

If you hardly ever swear.

You said that the true meaning of "God provides"

Is that everything you need is right at hand

If you just know how to look:

And that it doesn't matter if there aren't many

Of whatever it is you're looking for

Because you only need one--

And you will find it.

You showed me that privilege and responsibility

Are two sides of same coin

And that I, like little Hans

Can make a big difference.


Most of all, as good Dads do

You believed in me

And taught me to believe in myself.

That lesson, like the anorak, has stuck.







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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Alakananda Ma published on December 31, 2010 10:28 AM.

    Ma's New Year's Letter was the previous entry in this blog.

    Remembering Dad is the next entry in this blog.

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