You remember him moving along the farm planks in his moccasins like some lithe beast, to fleece sheep with his age-old shears. He’d oil these tools and sharpen them with his stone after dinner. He’d
You remember him moving along the farm planks in his moccasins like some lithe beast, to fleece sheep with his age-old shears. He’d oil these tools and sharpen them with his stone after dinner. He'd put his fingers up to the sky to find out how many hours’ sun tomorrow would bring. The roads were tar-boiled in June. You took him to the cemetery. He removed the slice of rubber he used to keep the shears shut, and handed them to you, handle first. He shuffled to the spicket. Stooped. Getting thinner by the step. You saw him fill an old watering can to wash bird droppings from a memorial. If he can no longer hold her, smile at her, he can compensate with these rituals. The watering. The weeding. The cleaning. The caressing of stone. You clipped away at the grass around her grave and remembered the old days. He raised a beetle eyebrow, adjusted both of his new hearing aids and waved his fist at a gang of farting corbies flying low overhead. You remember Saturday nights: he combed his jet-black, brylcreemed hair and hummed some Scottish lyric. Or maybe Jim Reeves. You remember him loosening his tie after the pub. You held the horizontal hold button on the rented TV as he got the dominoes out. He put an LP on the hire-purchase radiogram, from whose innards you sampled port when you were 10. You knew it was Saturday. He rubbed his hands together and recycled old jokes. There was a whisky glow about him. He was a son of the soil, all kindlers, coal, kale and combines. You remember him placing his Embassy cigarette on a wooden lintel before supper to rearrange the legs of a calf being born to the world. He was smoking heavily, saving up the sky- blue coupons for a coffee table. He moved slowly up his stairs last month. Short of breath. Short of light. He now looks for familiarity in unfamiliar faces. He rattles every door of the care home they chose for him, in search of his past. You're proud of him: as he rages against the coming of the night.
Andy Murray worked variously as a journalist and a mental health nurse before retiring in 2021. His poetry has been published in several outlets, including Prole, The Journal, Poetry Scotland, Southlight, Stanza and The Poets’ Republic. He won the 2022 Fresh Voice award at the Wigtown Poetry Prize.