Cathy Whittaker tutors in poetry and memoir and runs/co-runs various creative writing workshops – see www.openmindwriting.com. She is published in several anthologies and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.
hardly ever used, made of oak
stuffed with letters,
square, sturdy pigeon holes
for sticking bills in and old invitations
not replied to.
He never sat there for long
too busy looking after the Herdwick sheep
he was failing at making a living from,
a dream gone wrong.
On days when the rain didn’t stop
he made angry attacks on forms
searched for cheque books
shouting we can’t afford to use electricity
go out, pay for petrol.
So my mother would search for jobs
for him in the Whitehaven News,
and he’d refuse to do any of them.
Bad days when we kept away.
He wouldn’t stay crumpled
in his utilitarian chair
even though it stormed outside.
He’d take his crook, shrug into a torn anorak,
whistle the dog, stride up the intake
to count the sheep cropping the grass.
At his happiest outside alone,
debts, loans, jobs, pensions, wills,
all falling away
into the mist and rain
crossing the fells.
Poem published in This Place I Know, a new anthology of Cumbrian Poetry, Handstand Press
15 poems in Quintet and other poets, Cinnamon Press, ed. Jan Fortune
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