You never wore a parting when I knew you Dad,
so why have they fashioned you one now?
A vision through sepia-faded snaps,
Short back and sides with calf-lick curl,
awkward smile, hiding crooked teeth,
top button fastened, one collar upstands,
your hair parted, slapped down by spit in your
working-class mother’s hard-working hands.
They knew you well enough Dad, so why,
why did they give you a look best forgotten?
Your youth now gone but old age not known,
Dad no more, Grandad no more, Husband no more.
You lie here, calmly, the pain long subsided,
wearing that crazy, cadaverous smile
and a parting; your hair flat on both sides,
left by the undertakers’ caring restyle.
They must have seen you only last week,
so why don’t they see what they’re looking at?
The Brylcreem days and teddy boy suits,
rich auburn hair, flicked back in a quiff,
your happier days and Saturday nights,
scrubbed clean nails, no sign of oil
from the motor mechanic’s long hours of toil.
Imagined moments from your old black and whites.
You never wore a parting as you matured in years,
so why did they fill my last moments with tears?
Angry, I run my fingers through your hair,
a full, sandy pile, now dusted with grey,
give back your style once carried with pride –
but no matter how hard I try,
that smile, false happiness you proclaim,
will go with you to the funeral pyre.