Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Left Blank

The poem had begun. The bond between
a father and his son... was all that I
could write before, again, I drew that blank:
that nothingness that clouds my thoughts,
that stills my pen. Deep breath. Let’s start. Again.
That bond between a father and his son...
But no. That big black line, where ‘Father’s Name’
should be – that thick black line which speaks to me
of emptiness, of space between, of loss,
of gaps that can’t and won’t be bridged, of words
I know do not exist – that line was drawn
through all the words I could not write; crossed out
before I’d even written them. Instead,
I added two lines of my own to fill
that space, left blank, where father’s name should be:
Two people looking at the stars at night,
as far apart as two points in the sky.
Two uncrossed lines, now written down, I looked
at them and knew at last the thing was done:
the bond between that father and this son.


  1. Brilliant Fergus and if this is a true story, you can always talk to me like you should have with your father and I am sure you will be there for your children. (Especially if they support the same team as us ha!)

    1. I'm currently exploring those big adoption ideas, abandonment, loss, reconciliation... I could go on - as I try and make sense of it all. [ And you're a diamond, Tim (and yes - they're on the same team!).]

  2. patriarchy???
    for me the father/ son bond is the greatest casualty of a relinquishment. A father is not, until having generated his son, his son is not, until having been generated by his father. neither role exists until that moment of male fathering, thence, in an instant, female conceiving. the father has initiated the whole thing. of all individuals involved for his full name to be absent from accountability for the venture is an absolute travesty. A total undermining. what a loss for this father! what a loss for this son! lest it should seem an afterthought, what a loss for the mother!
    I personally, a son, know this father but he gave me away and he knows he gave me away and at what cost. Practically knowing him now, although arguably better than nothing, cannot retrieve, for me or for him, an historical loss of unknowable magnitude. Speaking as one, a once relinquished son carries this everywhere. I carry it into my relationship with my son and with my daughter and seek, consciously or not, to compensate by adding to them what that father and I lost in the hope that they will gain.
    Your sons are lucky to have such a father Fergus. Hopefully your loss will prove their gain. a filling of the blank. David

    1. Thanks for that detailed and considered response, David. 'A filling of the blank' sounds to my ears as the starting phrase of another poem (and it scans in iambic metre); although it could equally be an alternative title for this one.

  3. that blank is concretized as the years proceed, again and again and again, to be perpetually drawn beyond resolution, even in the event of some belated 'reunion'; it can only be too late.

    1. 'It can only be too late...' is profound. It is calling me to write the poem which contains it.