Planting Parsley with my Father
Resting on the bench broken by winters
I see not my mother’s cool pale
flowing through my hair breezing
around my ears and face each morning
not the hands that could span an octave
make the shortest pastry coax
a sick puppy to health but my father’s
showing me the worth of green in spring.
A robin perches on the warm fork searching
damp earth the way he worked trowels hands
curved as a ship’s bow mapped by war
channelled by a force ten hauling me
from night tides dream sick half-drowned
holding me in the air rescued to a summer’s day
with the smell of trenches heeling in small plants
the way he mended my dolls twisted back
their arms into sockets tucked them in beside me.
Kerry Darbishire is a full-time poet, and a regular Poetry School student. Her work includes A Lift of Wings (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2014), Distance Sweet on my Tongue (IDP 2018) and the biography Kay’s Ark (Handstand Press 2016), for which she was given a Hunter Davies Bursary. She was also a runner-up in the 2013 Mslexia competition.
Carol Ann Duffy says: I admired the language of Kerry Darbishire’s ‘Planting parsley with my father’, and her focus on hands as emblematic of the parents’ personalities. The mother’s competent clean hands are contrasted with the father’s rougher and possibly more loving ones. I loved the tenderness of these images; and the sadness – there’s a sense of bereavement here, as though the poet is the broken doll who can be mended by memory.