The hesitant phonecall from the callbox across the road
The gloomy stairwell and lift
The setting sun picking out the backs of old sandstone buildings
Glimpsed through the window
The big green leather-topped desk in oak panelled office
The broad-shouldered heavy-featured man
Leaning into the pool of light from the one green-shaded desk lamp
His eyes penetrating the supplicant for any sign of weakness
The cigar stabbing the smoke-filled gloom for emphasis
Just like a gangster movie, he thought.
This big man who reluctantly smiles and extends his hand
Is her father
And the supplicant is here to try to prove himself
Worthy to marry this man's daughter
Unsure he can do it
But determined he will
The gruff-voiced interrogation:
- She's been swearing since she met you, young man.
Comes home and swears at us, her parents.
- My mum brought us up not to swear, he said.
I don't swear.
She didn't get it from me.
- I hear you drink. She has come home smelling of drink.
- I like a drink but most nights
it's a pint or often half a pint. I'm not a drunk.
Surprised, her father softened.
They talked about
her tendency to exaggerate, to dramatise
and found common ground in their mutual admiration
…. of her.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem