Beer Garden

The Rodney’s scratchy backyard
(‘Beer Garden’ is a joke).
Thirty square foot of rubbled slabs
on which to stand and smoke
at a panoramic view of the car park,
And after dark, a cold string of bulbs
left unreplaced from some distant lark
on the grounds of If it ain’t broke.

Reclining at the table, drink at hand,
A grizzled pink bear of a man
and his son, fizzy on Coke,
Clambering all over him,
As children sometimes do
(Girlfriends sometimes too, a test
of parental patience perhaps,
before you make your own pests).

I knew him. At the garage once,
He resolved some mystery in my car.
Wielded a spanner with the slow care
that hints at the sleeping bear beneath.
Even his knuckles had muscles –
I remember thinking – his wrench-grip,
which now grips the leg of his wriggling sprog,
to lift and, in an agony of giggling, land.
And think what unspeakable damage
those knuckles could do
in the wrong hands.

July 07

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