Father I forgive you
Were words he never said
But he never met his father
Because his father had already
Left, long before he went to
School or learned to walk
Before he learnt to crawl
Or counted his numbers, recited
His ABCs. His father had
Already gone, far away across the seas.

Father I love you
Were words he could not say
How could he, when he did
Not know who you were
What you looked like even
Or how you fought in the war
And lost two fingers.
You were shapeless, formless,
And all the while he was
Blameless, carrying on his
Young shoulders the sins
Of his many fathers.

Father I need you
I’m sure he might have said.
He must have wanted you
Although he could not admit
Abandoned, adrift, a young
Boy needing somebody who
Could protect him, a sensitive soul
In a bleak nasty world
And you rejected him, turned
From him, and never saw him again.

Do you think he could forgive
You, your young son?
Who believed he could fly
Who jumped out of a tree?
Because his faith was greater
Than his disbelief.
How he could have believed in you
Like you were something true.

But no, you stole away,
To where the grass is greener
Leaving a needy sapling
Who yearned for your warmth
And love, but you left behind
Emptiness, a guilt and a wrath.
Oh you, you did not know
What you did, and how your
Actions still shiver down the years.

Oh father, father, father,
I pray, stem his tears.
He is an old man now, as
You were, and the years, they
Are passing, and a bitterness
Sits on his heart, oh father,
Father forgive him, set yourself
Free, and maybe then, only then
You will finally be happy.

Rose Staveley-Wadham