The train glides through a world of frozen white,
low mists swirl and smudge the mirror of the Clyde,
Helensburgh stretches on the far shore
like a lazy cat, and we slide into Port Glasgow,
its tenements shimmering in serried rows on the steep hillside.
My father laboured here, learned his trade before the war
up on those high roofs, working long hard shifts.
A young man wrapped against the cold on arctic days like this,
fingers sore with blood-dried hacks, head down,
hammering, hammering six inch nails, heart beating
to the metal ding and ching.
The train moves off, crawls along the coast. My father
on his eyrie perch of sixty years ago stops to blow
some heat into his hands, gazes at the distant
snow-capped peaks northwards of the Firth;
the Brack, the frosted mass of Ben Narnain,
chittering Ben Ìme, the Cobbler’s craggy last.
While I sit warm and comfy in a future he will never know
he sets his hammer on the slates, clambers to his feet
in patched and mucky dungarees, his trademark black beret,
climbs to the ridge, and, arms spread eagle-wide, soars
in the timeless, ice blue sky above the dreaming Clyde.