02 October, 2011

Golden Rule

In a forgotten drawer
my father’s wooden rule,
brass-hinged to unfold
sideways and lengthways
for measuring boat timbers.

I hear the slap and click
of its closing,
before I can say ‘lifeboat’,
see it vanish
into that long pocket
on the thigh of blue overalls.

Indicator of his precision
love of numbers
a life measured
in feet and inches
business takings
cricket scores
football pools
bingo calls.

His emotions kept in check,
marked off by pencil,
held in columns,
buttoned up in cardigans,
till an outburst
a sea-squall soon past.

Now he’s gone to talk
spans and cubits
and dead-reckoning with Noah.

Margaret Eddershaw

First published in Iota, 2007