The Fathers

The Fathers

All over the city, women in restaurants,
cafes, bars, wait for their fathers. Sometimes
the women sip coffee, or wine, pretend to read.
Some fathers arrive promptly, smiling,
dressed as Policemen, or in flannel pyjamas.
One wears a taffeta dress, fishnets and stilettos,
rubs the stubble under his make-up.
Sometimes the father is a Priest
in a robe stained with candle-wax.
Some have pockets gritty with sand
from Cornish holidays; one father
flourishes a fledgling sparrow, damp
and frightened, from an ironed handkerchief.
They bring spaniels, Shetland ponies, anacondas,
they bring yellowed photographs
whose edges curl like wilting cabbages.
One father has blue ghosts of numbers
inked into his forearm. Some of the fathers
have been dead or absent for so long
the women hardly recognise them, a few
talk rapidly in Polish or Greek and the women
shift on their chairs. Some sign cheques,
others blag a tenner. One smells of wood-shavings
and presents the woman with a dolls' house.
Some fathers tell the women You're getting fat
while others say, Put some meat on your bones, girl.
Some women leave arm in arm with their fathers,
huddled against the cold air, and shop
for turquoise sequinned slippers or Angelfish
hanging like jewels in bright tanks. Others
part with a kiss that misses a cheek - lint
left on coats, and buttons done up wrong.


from Lip (Smith Doorstop, 2007), © Catherine Smith 2007, used by permission of the author and The Poetry Business.

Recordings

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith Reading from her poems

1How It All Started

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2Losing it to David Cassidy

3Back

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4The Fathers

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5The Ewe

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6The Set of Optics You Wouldn't Let Me Buy in Portobello Road Market, September, 1984

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7Heckmondwike

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8Blue Egg

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9Simulacrum

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10The Biting Point

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11Snakebite

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12Smoking and Reading Nietzsche in the Kardomah

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13Ascension

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14Baptism

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15Cut

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16Colin Pepper I Luv U

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17Original Residents

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18Sleep

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19The New Bride

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20Australia

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21Calculation

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22Cast

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23Feral

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24Hover

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25Fontanelle

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26Night

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27Marcus

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28Postulant

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29Nectar

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30Twin

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31What's Required After a Day Teaching Poetry to Nine Year Olds

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32Doors

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33With Love, and the Date

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34Prayers

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35The World is Ending Pass the Vodka

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Books by Catherine Smith