Up Scottish hills, automatic car gears,
I remember my mother very much in tears
– that was our last ever family holiday
binding ties unwound, hems began to fray.
When I asked about maternal bitter tears,
secrets were told beyond pubescent years;
the sacrificial lambs lay patiently on altar
– did I find out about fracturing before father?
Armstrong optimistic about a ‘wonderful world’
this boy’s soul shut down, embryonically curled;
edited say-cheese smiles, family photos torn in two,
off to boarding school, my best choice too.
House masters became my proxy parents,
my defiance challenged their forbearance;
this delinquent easily earned weekly detention,
punitive actions didn’t trigger much prevention.
Father little seen, fault-lines yawned wide,
how did kindred cloth get woven, deeply dyed;
lengthy warp lined, days to patiently prepare,
weft shuttles macho-powered, forgotten any prayer.
After fifty long years our small family survives,
forgiveness and expansion keeps it vibrantly alive;
some near the finish line, baton long since passed
others just started sprinting, catching up so fast.
Photo: Irish Times article 1964