First Place

At school, a rough painting
of my father, in green:
His shotgun, an accurate detail,
hung arm-broke,
With empty breech, unloaded,
exposed, gun-oil-clean.
He shift-slept: even through
my demanding brush-stroke.

In my paints he towered
over a fictional ditch:
At an earlier age
I’d mastered the pen flow,
Of flood-cut riverbanks:
grass-tufted shallow cliffs.
Mr (Welsh) Williams enthused:
‘get it into the show’.

I forgot the competition,
in Addlestone:
I was told, later,
I won: first in the contest:
They’d called my name,
but I was drawing at home:
Fighting for my sibling place,
and coming third-best.

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