Strong Vulnerability

I always kept that painting of a little boat

The one you gave me

But each time I looked at it

The boat seemed to be moving further away,

Until I feared one day it would be out of the picture.

Why did I choose to photograph those two empty deckchairs by the ocean?

Sensing a separation, sensing something.

I remember that remarkable day,

It was so frighteningly hot

And you were talking about the journey home

Before we had even arrived.

With hands full of drinks and snacks we found two seats.

The sun was merciless

The ocean piercing blue that day.

We talked of tomorrow with words of yesterday.

You were always so hard, uncompromising.

A grip upon this life that I had never tasted,

A sure-footedness that I had not discovered.

Watching you sitting back against an unyielding environment,

Rooted in the earth

While others hover around just like a guest here,

Flirting around existance

And flittering around you and your invincibility.

A strengh derived from actions, achievements, success.


Then the two seagulls flew close, too close.

Their squalid mess missed me

But splattered down the front of your shirt,

Your beautiful, immaculate, clean shirt.

Ironed to perfection by your new lady,

In the way my mother could never iron,

Could never get it right for you.

You jumped up devastated and then I saw it,

Your true misery,

Your tenuous, fragile grip on this life after all.

The gulls had messed on you, only you,

Singling you out.

It was a tragedy.

And I saw your struggle, your humanity.

It still moves me deeply today,

Makes me love you even more.


For my father.

◄ The Traveller

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Wed 18th Oct 2017 04:26

I do enjoy your (dare I say) unique view of the world and the positioning of your family in your writing.
With a lovingly embraceable tenderness, you set the scene, embedding your characters with a memory, at once attaching them to you but also proving their credibility.
And in the final lines, your initial poetic spark; expose perhaps a new truth to add to tender memories.
Beautiful writing.

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Laura Taylor

Thu 5th Oct 2017 09:53

Yep, that first line drew me straight in. Really liked all the detail in this, the questioning and observations, the slow reveal, and the relationship between you. I'm a bit of a sucker for poems about Dads, cos mine died a couple of months ago and I'm still all over the shop about it.

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Stu Buck

Wed 4th Oct 2017 13:07

excellent writing, love the first few lines especially, a great metaphor

Tony Hill

Wed 4th Oct 2017 12:08

A beautiful poem, Hannah. The free verse form the poem is written in lends itself to the gradual realisations you express regarding your father. Tony.

patricia Hughes

Wed 4th Oct 2017 00:58

I love it,what lies behind the mask.

Graham Sherwood

Tue 3rd Oct 2017 22:12

This is a really strong piece Hannah for a variety of reasons. Whilst I have always been the strong father to my four grown up children, it is a difficult position to be in as one ages and their reliance on one decreases.
Whilst I am still married to their mother, the older I get (66) the less useful I feel.

In your piece I felt a twang of that too. Forgive me for saying but you appear to be a very good looking young girl as my two daughters are. Fathers always share a special protective bond with daughters. When that cord begins to fray with age it is very disconcerting.

Sorry for the waffle but your piece raises issues for people which is the mark of good work!

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Wolfgar Miere

Tue 3rd Oct 2017 21:33

What a lovely poem Hannah.

For me it portrays the fragility which lies in strength, and how often perceived strength is merely a facade and easily fractured.

I suppose it is the indignity of an event such as you describe which snaps the recipient of it, especially if in the company of someone they love or respect.

How often in flashes of temper do we expose our true selves? and immediately recognize what we have done.

It is a very sad poem also, it's that point in a relationship when we realize another persons fallibility, and in doing so have to accept our own.

A really thoughtful and sensitively written poem.


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Tue 3rd Oct 2017 21:19

What intrigues me Hannah is how the soiling of the shirt is devoid of humour and indeed highlights an aspect of the man that is to be taken seriously. It sort of implies that a weakness is really just part of the overall man and that makes it poignant. You seem to have created a sense of unreality in the scene, reminding me of the film A Death in Venice with Dirk Bogarde (only in that respect). Your father seems like a man of substance.
Nicely conveyed.

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patrick D Ortiz

Tue 3rd Oct 2017 17:01

A beautiful memory to share about your father keep that one and write it many times ...

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