Peter Day

Pictures of My Father

House 5

There is nothing of value here
The house is empty


‘Good as new’ you said
as you placed the misshaped
hardly worn safari-suit jacket
onto my shoulders and said

I was eight and You said
You alone are Livingstone in Africa;
Halifax will remember its intrepid son.

Your clothes are worn,
torn, ill-fitting, ragamuffin hand-me downs,
seconds, USED,
you are not used,
you alone are clothed and swaddled by a band of

And so began the daily ritual
of redeeming that which is torn,
backstitching our frayed unmendable portion
We had never quite given up hope.

But we gave up hope.
It seemed that as we reclaimed ourselves
Through the discarded lives of others we were

Living almost,
even laughter, could be repossessed
regretted the no time to be romantic
in a just living life.

We did not touch history
there was too much pain
to bother remembering so we forgot

Aside: I walked to the pawnshop with my mother and
her engagement ring. It was all we had to sell apart
from ourselves. We traded metal for food.
No exodus.
No redemption, No salvation


Decision made - We never had any time, or time for
step outside and walk away
the house is empty and I lock the door, to turn once

it is better that there is no remembering.

Besides: We should not cruelly give ourselves hope,
we should extinguish expectations that our returning
will be filled with Tom Jones and a few lines from
the Green Green Grass of Home. I was playing this
in my room and when I stepped out and I caught
you crying

‘And there to meet me were my mama and papa’.

They abandoned you and what keeps us alive is not
the belief of being re-united - although you did
place an ad in the paper where you last saw your
mother 50 years ago - but the belief in going on.

Arm in arm, we left together,
space and distance was all we left behind
still we arise.
We had nothing to sell.

The fridge is defrosting,
the self-timer switches are turned off and confused

All those things that are you aren’t you are there
waiting for you.
Inside: between each electric hum
Crackles a still present continuum

Time goes on but
the curtains are muddled
open yet drawing closed, the cupboards unhinged
emotionally emptied
and your cup needs tea-bag-hot-water for your tea.

Waiting, expectant, for a momentary appearance
A parable of arrival?


Black bin bags garland the outside
announcing a return
to be filled with you

We cleared the house.
box after box after box after box –
not one thing to sell, a worthless life
Me and my sister went through the house
box by box by box after box,
by box by box after box
by box.

Blag bag discarded
after black bag, piling
black upon black

the lifetime of bills,
the narrative of ephemera,
an industry of filing,
the trips and trinkets,

a landfill of life



The charity reclamation company said
except mourning and this house of lamentations

Here this place contains nothing
but the beginning of uncertainty
little except the occasional gulp of emptied air
This dust marks the place where our story is ending

Here are my favourite sounds
Here are my favourite smells
Here are my favourite fears
Here are my favourite pains
Here my delusion, and fantasy.

I Arise.

I can’t go on

You turn to the house
just a shape now
without form
a disturbance in the air
no more limitations

Today’s here now always
will be forgotten
by the dying memories of tomorrow

Don’t be sentimental, tell it like it is
we all add it up to sum total
of every moments laughter and each days fight

I am on fire with grief,
with the uselessness of it all
I’m on fire with anger and that I am forgetting
Your being and not being
I reach out and hold onto nothing
it was all I had

I Arise