The war, the hospitals—he was away
so long he was a stranger when he died;
I knew his face better from holiday
snapshots than from the life; and when I tried
to weep there were few tears. Later, I thought
I owed him part of my life for the years
he lost and for his early death. I ought
to have known that my father re-appears
in me no matter what I think: I feel
about books, craftsmanship, woodlands at dusk
just as he once did, his coded will
decoded as I sit here at my desk
translating impulses that might fulfil
my father’s purpose and complete his task.

James Aitchison

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 11 Number 3, on page 41
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