He stalks a parallel universe that
I glimpse occasionally in shop windows.
I say occasionally, but, honestly,
It's becoming more and more frequent now.
And I’m slowly having to come to terms
With peripheral images that once shocked.
Dad was there when my new passport arrived,
Staring at me from pages two and three.
And in all the latest holiday snaps
He is standing, smiling, there at the back.
Worst of all though, every morning when I
Look in the mirror, it’s him there, not me.
I am simile become metaphor.
Before I begin, a note to my father: "Hi, Dad, I know you are alive and well, I haven't forgotten, it's just artistic licence".
Okay, having got that matter cleared up, this is the second of three poems I have entered in the National Galleries of Scotland annual creative writing competition. The competition is for poetry or prose inspired by anything in the Galleries' permanent collection.
The inspiration for my poem is Ken Currie's self-portrait Unfamiliar Reflection.
The painting has previously been exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but I've never actually seen it in the flesh, so to speak. I spotted the above reproduction when I was looking for a photograph of Ken Currie's painting Three Oncologists (see previous posting) and immediately knew the poem I wanted to write.
I'm not entirely happy with the poem to be honest, but I am at least happy in the knowledge that it was the best I could do in the face of a rapidly-approaching deadline. What I am quite pleased about however is that I wrote a poem called "The Ghost Of My Father" before I read the blurb on the National Galleries website that says the painting relates to the death, the year before it was painted, of the artists father, to whom he "bore a striking resemblance". I'm pleased I got it, though perhaps I'm not as smart as I would like to think I am and my poem, like the painting, is just articulating a commonplace observation of old gits like me.
I always like to recommend something to readers of this blog that relates to the posting, so, obviously, one of today’s recommendations is Ken Currie’s self-portrait Unfamiliar Reflection. The other is another Ken Currie portrait of which I am very fond, that of the of Sir Peter Higgs, commissioned by The University of Edinburgh.
I would have liked to have included a reproduction of Unfamiliar Reflection in the posting, but I'm still waiting to hear back from the National Galleries of Scotland how much they are going to charge me to licence the image. Hopefully not too much, in which case I shall update the posting.