Michael Vince Poems Contact

Twelve Poems of Michael Vince

photo of Michael Vince in Rome


CLEARANCE


From Poems Around My Father


When your Aunt Alice died and left you all her things,

your brother’s wife was sure there’d been ‘a lot of money’:

Aunt Alice was a Catholic, as exotic to me then

as a pictured South Sea islander, and didn’t have a penny;

you were your mother’s boy and kept faith with the dead.

One day boxes and furniture came over in a van,

lingered outside the house, then hung about our shed


that your brother built as a garage for the car we didn’t have.

Some pieces you broke up and used for carpentry:

a wardrobe blocked our landing like a confessional.

When I climbed in it once, it tipped forward slowly

against the banister rail, until I was trapped inside.

For the first time, I shouted “Help!” and heard how feeble

my voice sounded to me when nobody replied.


Meanwhile the shed was a tangle of rosaries, blurry mirrors

broken lamps and framed pictures of the Unknown,

much like your own leavings stacked beneath my stairs

after your death. Father, old man, I’m on my own,

my unanswered cries for help now catch me unawares

as if while I grow older so do my childish needs.

I’ll have to count them off, not count on you, alone

like the old aunt you cared for, fingering magic beads.