On winter evenings coming home,
the fire was my concern.
If it were dead
I’d have to bring it back to life
before my dad’s return.
Often the process failed.
The paper burned the wood,
the coke refused to catch.
By the third attempt,
I knew it was no good.
The doorbell and the sound of shoes
scraping on the mat. He’d see
me on my knees, the rubbish in the grate.
You put the kettle on.
Leave this to me.
I’d watch him do what I had done
and see the flame, promisingly frail
grow til the coke was glowing as it should.
Just once. Just once,
I’d pray, while making tea,
just once, please, let him fail.