Assembling Dad – by Clare Marsh

Assembling Dad, by Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Clare Marsh, a writer of children’s fiction, short stories, flash fiction and poetry, was Commended in our 2019 Folio competition, and published in Folio #73. Clare graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent in 2018. She can be found on Facebook at claremarshwriter1

Assembling Dad

Dad sits at his bureau flap
under the ebony crucifix
and scrutiny of his Sacred Heart statue.
Settling with a tuneless whistle,
he rubs his hands, unpacks the Airfix kit,
twists grey pieces from the plastic frame –
frowns at the forty-six-step instruction sheet.
He cements the fuselage, wings, propellers
of a Supermarine Spitfire.
Pipe clenched between dentures,
wreathed in blue-smoke haze –
he’s the lone male in the house
bemused by girls’ toys,
‘Women’s Lib’, burgeoning hormones.

Blast! A vital part drops,
the cockpit landing on camouflage lino,
skitters across the floor.
Giggling, we three girls kneel to search,
while Mum prays to St Anthony,
patron saint of lost objects.
The piece retrieved, Dad prizes lids
off tiny tins of enamel paint
covers the model with deft brush strokes,
tells us (yet again) how he missed out
on an art career because of the war.
He soaks transfers in warm water,
floats off the backing, using tweezers
applies decals and serial numbers.
Later, he’ll attach a thread
to suspend the plane in mid-flight.

After his death we dismantle
improbable ceiling dog-fights
between the Spitfire and Concorde
while Dad, disassembled,
stands sentinel in his urn
on the bureau.

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