Any place we drove to it seemed that Dad
could always show us the roundabouts, roads,
or paving he had once had a hand in,
back in the days he had worked much harder.
When he’d made his money and packed work in
he lost his sense of what to do with time,
moped around, got grumpy, and sent me out
to the ‘offie’ to refill his flagon.
A ‘man’s man’ my mother said, who needed
a joke to keep him going, and something
to get him up in the morning besides
a late stroll to place his bets at Coral.
Once I’d married he told me that the years
he’d grafted to feed us all were the best
ones he had known, but how before too long
I’d learn that no one’s indispensable.
So after he’d botched a shed, dug the pond
and built a rockery, the time was ripe
for change. With a clapped out van and a mate
he started again on small extensions.
Marking out the footings or laying slabs
was all a matter of lines and levels.
You stretched a cord to breaking point and then,
to keep it true, you flicked it free of snags.