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For my dearest father - my greatest supporter, who loved me and encouraged me without fail - right to the very end.

Old Father in the Garden

Gillian_ferguson_photo_high_resby Gillian K Ferguson15 Jun 2014

My old father’s bald summer head is French-polished

by slick sun, brilliant oil.
A glossy conker, peeled out of whitest Scottish skin.
83-year-old Chippendale patina -
quicksilver, gleaming chestnut halo.
Slippery pepper-speckle fly graveyard.

Mostly immobile,
Franciscan birds, Geisha butterflies,
love and attend him. Settle tenderly.
Bees orbit, in gyroscopic gold webs.
Speaking a garden language he has learned in stillness
through musical years and years and years. Nature’s dialogue.
Family birds celebrate; flappily squabble, chatter
about any frank matters with him there. Ask bright,
black-eyed questions. For raisins. Frogs he has known
since bog-spawn smile broadly - wink goldenly, slowly,
like weird green babies.

Water lilies tinkle pink instruments,
played by pumped water - underwater bulbs
like bagpipes. Soporific as lyres he finds it.

His crumpled brown paper, Bacchus hand is always full –
grape-jewel heart of gold or ruby glass flashing.
Evening wine glows like a storybook potion,
religious elixir, into gutsy, blood-smeared sunset -
disgorged entrails of the elder star, Sun’s summer paunch.
Cupping the last failing geriatric light - pale, sour as urine.

He is hunting pink, dandy-waistcoated. Wired in -
as the ancient ink-petalled Clematis supports the house.
Old Man’s Beard wizardly mortars
the Alzheimer mountain-stone wall -
which is forgetting it is a wall: disordered, crumbling,
tries to return to the mother glen, tumbling wild.

Slumbering, his rotted chair is returning to earth -
to remolecule tottery faun-legs with original tough tree.
As content pensioner flowers - beautifully dressed
in classical styles like The Queen, breathe his poetic oxygen.
Laced with pongy old floral perfumes -
pulled each year from matching handbag heads,
sweeter for the years, like an elegant muscatel,
dust him delicately with powdery gold pollen.
All nodding at it all.

Gently clouding his eco-system. In a warm gold haunting,
these small sparkling galaxies will remember him -
folding away his winter-mottled lavender skin glove,
dancing summer breath - worryingly pixie as a child.
Autumn’s silent garden download - glorious, gold-brocaded;
orange, red and imperial blue burning onto disk,
includes him: golden photos - blurred, drowsy, squinting.
Ferryman coins leaf his evening eyes; if Charon, impatient,
should burst like dandelion sunshine fists from the cement-
filled Acheron, stone-slabbed Styx - masquerading as sunning
reptilian paths. Or Pluto’s ice-moon crash in fox dance-watching,
bat-flicker dusk. Glittering, bone-creaking, purple winter dark.

Powder-blue Blackbird, mottled Chaffinch, memory-yolked eggs -
capable of conjuring whole birds, reconstructing wings, no less!
will always remember him here; among nut-and-crumb flutter.
Genius dreaming caterpillars - who imagine butterflies, flight -
sprout scraps of ridiculous beauty out of crawly ugly-bugdom,
will recount fantastic myths of him. Like how they flashmobbed him!
a fluttery coterie of admiring Red Admirals, flirty Painted Ladies,
for his birthday. How Blackbird Mother, whose children he had saved
from a black, green-eyed fur demon, knocked on the door with her beak,
hopped into the house, laid him an egg! The shimmering golden moth
on his shoulder, which turned out, close up, to be a golden night fairy.

And the singing pond’s sunken Lily bulbs have recorded his songs:
Huntingtower and Ca’ the Yowes; The Skye Boat Song,
The Crooked Bawbee - My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose…
to be played by the mellifluous soft voice of a summer evening zephyr;
through whispery, thirsty grass tongues, drooping silver-tongued leaves,
melliferous choirs of gorging vespertine bees,
tuned balloon throats of happily gurgling, simmering frogs.

Under the deathly spell of Honeysuckle’s sweet gothic opiate,
blue sky membrane will thin, die - revealing naked space,
booming black mouth-poem of mystery:
sugared but more terrifying, cut with stars.

This midnight grid of coruscating stars, ripe as fruit -
festooned with twinkling human wishes, ancient, fresh,
will generously figure him. A mythical genome,
colossal as Orion picked in antique silver -
forged at the burning clenched heart of original Universe.

From mother stars,
he will come home to Earth of broken stars,
bloody blue dust-daughter of love-crushed stars.
On spiritual migration, return to our garden -
smelling of Heaven, like a human lily.
Contracting down a spiral stair of silver darkness
to a sparkling net of familiar stars:

a genome built of light,
like the bones of an angel.

In summer evening’s lavender breath,
glittering showers of worshipping flies -
landing flowers luminous -
I will find his smouldering ghost, exactly here:
fundamental equations of love and light,

shining among bat-strobe, crashing white moths.

While sympathetic Moon polishes her beautiful rune.
To show his luminous bones - write his face in light.