I stand for the stop at the lane,
wait on the rubber-ribbed platform,
hold the steadying twirl-covered white pole,
glance through the glass rising from the ticket bin,
the green slackish bell-cord, tired, running the length
above the nearside seats.
Too may fingers, few gloved, more greased,
boned claws and fleshy fores,
tapping ping, I hear it still,
as we draw to the kerb
beside Dad’s weeping work –
the poster details church services
for the month, ten feet by eight,
by childish measurement;
father failed to find the foolproof
poster paints, waterproof.
Now the bleeding red and
bluish tears trail down the white,
at meeting points, a painful purpled bruising
From the number forty-seven,
bus rattle, initial mystery,
pausing beside the hall,
did any glance
as they dug hands deeper into sleeves
or double-checked the ticket ready for rare inspector
or stopped the chatter for a breath
or walked the gangway holding chrome?
Did any comment on the bleeding shame
or chuckle, vast display ineptitude
or try decipher what was written?
I alighted, walked past, and
entering the doors, said nought.
For shock and sadness
brought the mix with bewilderment and guilt,
that my Dad had made this failed display,
and this display of failure
when he knew everything there was to know
and was famed for his calligraphy.
I know that preachers could then
attract a crowd, but doubt the menu
then or now would cause a visit
from the bus. Apart from harvest festival,
who cares the preacher painted blue,
the date in red, here tearful-faced?
But father here, public disgrace,
and my ducts are inward.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over a dozen online poetry sites, and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader & Foxtrot Uniform. His website: https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com.