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When I look at my hands I think of my father,
and feel his pain through my fingers.
Rubbing the tips for the memory
of a working-class legend and his stories,
and I thank everything that can be thanked
for not being born into privileged rank,
(for an honest life cannot be bought
but must be learned the hard way).
I was born to a man who worked his soul,
twelve-hour days delivering coal,
ten ton he packed into hundredweight sacks,
while the English winter stabbed at his back.
I look at my hands & the mem’ries are ingrained,
and as I watch my hand drag a pen across this page,
I remember his hard work and sacrifice,
and thank him for being born into such a rich life.
Stripped back, we are bare
just a basic force
in a complex being.
Pull apart all the years –
all the thoughts & transformations –
& we are left as we are,
. a birth,
. a death,
. & the loves in between.
A version of this poem first published as But love? in Pash Capsule, 25 December, 2012