Father of mine…

Today was the first time I spoke to you

in four long years.

She foisted her phone into my beating hands

like a pusher pushing pills at a party

and I swallowed all my awkwardness

until it perched on my stomach’s seabed

and breathed a gobsmacked “hello” to my estranged father.

Flitting between fond memories

(all six of them)

and chucklesome banter

(that isn’t so chucklesome)

I laugh and I giggle and I smile and she pipes in beside me

content to be our relationship’s catalyst.

You’re away, frittering about in some far-flung country

where business is rife and you’re free from the stench of failure

failure at being a dad, a husband and a friend.

You tell me you’ll be back soon

like a perpetual Schwarzenegger, the phrase has been on a loop

in my head for the best part of a decade

so you shouldn’t expect a homecoming party anytime soon

because soon is a very long time

for such a short word.

Like mother like daughter

I’ve started donning flowery knee-length dresses,

Reminiscent of Squires garden centres and Japanese cherry blossom,

And I realise I’m turning into my mum.

She likes floaty, bell-shaped gowns with kaleidoscopic floral patterns,

The likes of which can be found in Monsoon, Oasis or Next,

Where the flowers are on steroids.

Be it tops, shirts, hats or skirts,

Madge laps them up, arms clad with fabric tulips

And strawberry-coloured petals as she waits at the checkout.

Like mother like daughter, I’ve been sucked in to these flowers,

Like a bee to honey.

In a similar vein, I get excited when buying new sponges

Fancy crockery and rainbow-coloured place mats.

Cleaning day has turned from “I don’t want to do this” to “I fucking love mopping”

And that’s how I know I’m her Mini Me.

With a splash of Dettol on that magic wand, she’ll leave cookers glistening

And floors so clean you could eat your dinner off them.

Wafts of lavender emanating from bed-sheets

And bathtubs free of pubes.

I used to stomp my feet and abhor said tasks,

But now I relish in a tidy kitchen, sweet-smelling bathroom

And smudge-less mirror.

Give me a fresh sponge and my night will be made,

Let me mop ’til the water is muddy and I’ll be satisfied.

For years I mocked mum’s love of cleaning,

Snorted at her anal ways and willingness to iron socks and knickers

‘Til the cows came home.

I guess I’d best start flinging disparaging remarks at myself,

Because I am her. And there’s no one else I’d rather be like.