I found my father’s love letters

To my unknown father

I found my father’s love letters
in strange and obscure places,
hidden in dark secret spaces,
where memories had closed the doors.

I found blank letters, with matching cards and envelopes.
A small drawer filled with letters unfinished,
crossed through, curling at the edges,
turning in the colour of time.

There was one in Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
sandwiched somewhere between
Fermina’s rejection of Floretina
and a lifetime of loving, waiting for true love.

I found some penned in a note pad, half-written, half-thought,
scribbled to capture fleeting thoughts,
earnest in writing the emotional overflow
that time edits into streams flowing over with love.

I found one folded
lost in the attic
an elegy to love
that time had forgotten.

I searched to find the true name to those letters entitled my love.
A secret lover? Distant lover? First time lover?
or even my mother of whom you gave a thousand names
but I never heard you call her my love.

by Roy McFarlane

Our next poetry workshop will be led by poet and teacher Sarah Hesketh and is entitled ‘“more than skin can hold”: Writing People’. It will take place on Saturday 1 April from 10.30-4.30pm in the John Henry Brookes Building here at Oxford Brookes University. The workshop will consider the questions that arise when we attempt to represent and remember others in our writing, and all are welcome! Visit our website for more information and to sign up. Please note that places are limited!

The Centre is co-sponsoring an exciting symposium called ‘Poetics of Home: Place and Identity’ which will be in London this Saturday 18 March. It will feature presentations and dialogues by a diverse range of established and emerging poets and poet-researchers whose work engages with and interprets the meanings of homeland and cultural identity. It also includes a reading by George Szirtes and Hannah Lowe. There are a few tickets remaining, so sign up via this page.

‘I found my father’s love letters’ is copyright © Roy McFarlane, 2016. It is reprinted from Beginning With Your Last Breath (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches:

This debut collection of poems by former Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane explores love, loss, adoption and identity in powerful, precise and emotionally-charged poetry. From bereavement comes forth a life story in poems; the journey of sons, friends, lovers and parents, and all the moments of growing-up, discovery, falling in and out of love and learning to say goodbye that come along the way. Themes of place, music, history, and race interweave personal narratives, with poems that touch on everything from the ‘Tebbitt Test’ and Marvin Gaye to the Black Country, that ‘place just off the M6’. Distinct and memorable, McFarlane’s poems are beautifully crafted, intricately focused, moving their readers between both the spiritual and the sensual worlds with graceful, rapturous hymns to the transformative power of love. Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website, and more about Roy’s work on his own website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets (The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.