Like father …

My father was a watchmaker, in the days when all watches were mechanical, full of tiny little cogwheels, hairsprings, jeweled escapements and so on. I’ve written about him before in a poem called ‘Tick’. He had a shop in Raeburn Place, in the Stockbridge district of Edinburgh. The front of the shop, with its display cases, cards full of watches, rings, ear-rings and brooches, was tidy enough, but the back shop was a tip, full of old clocks and clock parts. My father (Bill Will, a name to conjure with) worked in the front shop, behind a partition. Facing a blank wall, hunched over a workbench strewn with tools, watch parts and watches, he worked away, with a jeweller’s loupe in his eye, listening to the radio, kicking the power off when a customer came in.

I’ve always known we were very different in personality and outlook, indeed we became estranged at various points throughout his life.  And yet I was thinking the other day: when I’m not on the road, doing workshops, attending meetings, talking to people, I’m sitting hunched over a workstation strewn with papers, facing a nearly blank wall (it’s actually got some of my photos from USA and Iceland on it), and behind me was, until the other week, a disorganised tip (it’s fairly tidy now). So maybe the similarities are there after all. It’s a funny old world.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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2 Responses to Like father …

  1. Davide Trame says:

    Dear Colin, maybe you can feel this poem of mine a little bit in tune with the vivid images of your father in your post.
    Best wishes, Davide


    The ticking from the wall
    is the inner hue of the present,
    its regular, reverberating glow.
    The space of a waiting room
    with light coughs and small talk
    and an engine humming somewhere outside,
    a counterpoint to the rhythm in the room,
    the horizon’s unveiled voice.

    And a sunbeam carrying inside
    the rustling from the street,
    a dusty golden stripe on the floor tiles.

    The ticking reminds you
    of prayer and forbearance
    and the air’s stare, its quiet omnipresence.

    A light brown rhythm spangled
    with earth’s breath and shadows
    and the instants’ nakedness
    whose stare scares like the mirror’s.

    The hands moving imperceptibly
    make you think of their absence
    like the white of the empty dial
    in the blinding sunlight on the tower.

    So you stick to the ticking
    with slight anxiety.
    Now you shift you leg
    just too suddenly
    and the dog, your friend,
    raises his ears
    and stares straight at you

  2. sunnydunny says:

    Thanks Davide. I like the atmosphere in your poem. Excellent.

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