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On your knee

When I was very small I sat upon my Father's knee,
watching television, the stench of the foundry inked into his shirt,
and wrapped inside those arms so gentle-strong,
as light as air I sat, blown by his words.
The right knee, not the left - I knew my place
as he ate his meal around me,
upon his lap a plate of what my mother had prepared,
and always extra bread
to fill the stranger coming home.
Rough clothes and simple songs, a loving way,
as cuddles signaled tea-time had arrived,
the blackened grime inside his finger-nails
caressed my hair, and I was lighter then.
The rock to which I clung,
who taught me well the little that he knew,
but through his smile showed strength beyond those muscles
which held me high in rib-tickling agony.
Soft as Summer the warmth he gave,
his beating heart tripped like a drum
inside my infant ear,
and even then I knew the truth that he was simple,
and I was just a child.
And now forty-five years down the road I stand,
and call upon him when I have the time
and wish that I could sit upon his knee again,
and tell him how I love him...
but he is old, and I am heavy now

by Stephen Hirons

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