Dandy

by Gerry Cambridge

Dandy
          for my father and grandfather

As he got older he grew
increasingly more
flamboyant in dress,
out of a youth

of mud and leaves, the truth
not in a cloth or cut
he’d worn whatever
was unemphatic, plain,

his mind a twig
for birds to light on.
In a wood he was the wood;
in a field, a hare in rain.

Now, citied, he will ask
is it a day for the jacket of starlingegg,
or the green,
or the cream,

and the trousers the hue
of a primrose petal
or, the opposite of those
years a Bellshill Irishman

spent burrowing in dark,
of a larkindulging blue ?
Oh airiness,
Oh lightness,

the darker he grew,
the closer to ground,
the bloomier and more
of the sunlit world

the clothes he wore.
Smiling to think
of gaiety misattributed, and not
due to a paternal line

mouldering below . . .
Time, time enough
to put on the jacket
of soil or fire

and join that line from
the privilege of being
able to pick,
go out through the world,

bright as a finch,
before choice ends;
honouring skulls
in cashmere and linen.