The Coldest Yet

The Coldest Yet short poem

That’s the coldest yet,
the words on my father’s lips,
each night from October to spring,
as he stood at the back door
shaking the East Belfast rain
off his coat, and stamping
the mud off his Shipyard boots,
before coming in, setting
his piece box on the counter
and kissing my mother.

That’s the coldest yet,
he set his wet gloves
on the hearth to dry
and stood by the fire
to shift the cold that had
been bound in his bones
from a day on the gantries,
where the east wind whipped
up the Lough, sleet slashing
the Island until blue knuckled
fingers could barely feel
billy-can tea through a tin cup.
He stood, back to the fire,
steam rising from his trousers,
until I thought he might catch light.

My sixteenth summer
was the coldest yet,
no piece box on the counter,
no gloves by the fire,
his new bicycle lying
in the garage since Christmas,
and funeral tea, in china cups,
would never warm my hands.

It was the coldest yet,
but too cold for snow.

This poem is part of the Poetry Book Black Eyed Peace

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david atkinson

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Irish poet, who spent his early years in Belfast and now lives in Coleraine with his wife and 2 children. His first collection "Thomas" was published by Lapwing in 2005, and his second collection "Black Eyed Peace" has just been published. It is available as either a free eBook or in traditional printed format. His work has been widely published in magazines, anthologies, and on-line. His work has also been broadcast and published by the BBC and a number of his poems have achieved competition success. He has been involved with the Ballymoney Writers for over 15 years and has edited and published 3 collections of their work.
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