Writer and storyteller

bear 200

The Dead Fathers

This was the last of the poems to be written for Falconer's Joy from Hedgespoken Press. The whole collection is dedicated to my father, Mike Hirons (1944-1987)

Today - 31st October 2018 - is the first time this poem has been seen outside the pages of the book. It seems fitting. Happy Samhuinn to you all.



The Dead Fathers

I will lie down with the bones of my dead fathers,
Hold tight the portion of wisdom they passed to me
And sleep the vital sleep in the black-watered river.

Their bones will make a ship so that I do not drown,
For all that it is hard to tell in the world of the dead.
I will hold fast to the memory of life and endure

All the certainty that I have become one of
The dead men. A tiny star guides me to land,
So faint sometimes I cannot make it out,

So walk towards where I last remembered
The light of it falling, repeating its shape in my eyes
In case I begin to believe I never saw it shine.

My dead fathers will begin to speak verses
In languages I once knew, but in which
I no longer have currency or grace.

Instead, I will hand over my fragile coins,
Make apology for my misdemeanours, all my
Terrible forgetting, every time I wandered

From the bone-road they built for me.
‘I’m sorry,’ I’ll say. ‘For all of the failings,
But most of all for not falling far enough

Into your bone-garden to listen to the songs
Your dead tongues sing. I was too quick
To believe what the living told me

And the star of the underworld
Was outshone by the daytime Sun.
My fathers, forgive me.’

The dead fathers will look with their hollow eyes
Full of crying and I’ll bottle those tears to make
Salt for the meals at the long table at which
I serve my loved ones my life.


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