im. my father 1911-1978
by Angela Topping
Finals: the shining room,
measuring rows of desks.
Among pens and rulers, polo mints,
my sprig of rosemary curled.
Ancient Greeks would thread it
in their hair to sharpen wits.
I bruised the sword-shaped leaves,
began to write.
Now, in a hushed and darkened room,
you're tricked out in your best;
a box lined with satin - the blue
of rosemary in bloom. The herb
Remembrance is squeezed to cast
into your coffin, its green tongues
to writhe and shrivel in your flame.
As if I could forget... who wait
for the boom of your voice, the weight
of your tread, who quicken always
at some flat-capped grey head,
broad back, deliberate pace
still going somewhere, testing me,
holding all the answers now.