Weaving Spells

He was a magician to us
weaving spells with wood and clay.
Other people’s dads went to work
and reappeared for supper.

Ours spent his days
and most nights
carving marionettes
in his cluttered workshop.

He was always engrossed
kneading clay or carving wood,
the music of Glen Miller blaring
from a battered radio.

We would clink through the chaos
with mother’s homemade cakes,
the smell mingling with the stench of glue
boiling on an ancient cooker.

Our faces shone with shy smiles
as his hand took the teacup.
He had been whisked away to war,
we barely knew him.

We lived at Gran’s
and discovered him one day
in the hallway
with a battered trunk.

A soldier
in a coarse khaki uniform,
a clarinet in a case
and chocolate in his pockets.

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