Father to Son (story)

This short poem reflects the fact that both my son Andrew and I write poetry and sometimes collaborate on our poems. I have often wondered whether this ability is inherited. During the long search to identify my American soldier father (see the Life Stories section), I would put what I then thought was my father’s name – John Bell – into search engines with the wild idea that there might be an American poet with the same name – and who just might be my father. In other words, that poetry was in our genes.

After finally identifying him, I was then given the wonderful and moving news by my American sister, Judy Clough, that my father loved poetry himself, and sometimes wrote poetry. His older brother – my uncle – Dale Edwards was his high school poet laureate. He met his future wife in a creative writing class at college. So I now know that my writing ability is inherited.

My son is prolific as opposed to my slow stalactite drip of words, with the occasional flash flood of inspiration. This is my favourite among Andrew’s many poems:


The setting sun pins golden spokes
on softened silhouetted hills
that fill the fading pools of light
with chill and creeping shadow spills,
while iron-filing flocks of starlings
stir themselves in folds of flight
and sweep the ember distance
like the feathered hem of night.