Abstract Pipe Dreams.
by Sue A’Hern

No thoughts for health and safety, no rules applied;
apart from have fun with your bright orange and blue nets.
No one ever said, ugh or argh don’t fish off the sewage pipes.
The mighty Triumph or Norton parked on the barren ground,
between Swansea Baths and laundry;
often the sidecar roof removed so that I could stand up,
head and shoulders stuck out the top.
I wonder where the big blue bridge is now,
it isn’t where it used to be.
That’s the second blue bridge this week
that I can’t seem to find.

I can see him now squatting down, camera in hand;
brushing the sand off his light metre,
often using the B word in distress.
Saying “don’t tell your mother of anything I have let you do,”
in return I promised not to tell he swore.
I was the tomboy that held the Tilley lamp on the rocks at Worms Head,
whilst dawn broke and fish were caught.
Becoming proficient through his teaching of having a keen eye,
shooting rabbits for the pot.

So many childhood experiences given to me by my Dad;
the smell and magic of the attic room with its red light and blacked out     windows,
where photographs magically appeared on paper.
Pushing the bike out of the garage and down to the end of the street,
not to disturb the birds on eggs in his aviary.
Climbing down into the pit with its sawdust,
holding the light in just the right position while we fixed the bike;
For the briefest of time I became his assistant lapping up his knowledge,
a little girl behaving like the son he longed for.

Wherever you are now Dad,
I hope that you can see that your abstract pipe dreams live,
in the woman that is me.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: Me and my brother in the late 1960s, with our fishing nets and no concern for health and safety playing on an outlet pipe on Swansea beach. The photograph was taken by our father Jack A’Hern.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Abstract Pipe Dreams” is a poetic reflection on being brought up in Swansea in the 1960s, back in the days when health and safety was not a common term. My father, Jack A’Hern, taught me many skills that back then were usually only passed onto boys. He taught me to ride a motorcycle and do basic mechanical maintenance on his Triumph and Norton, to fish and use a shotgun for shooting rabbits for the pot. Jack encouraged me to read poetry and pursue my interest in photography, both of which led to my chosen career path. Unfortunately he died before his dream of having an adult child that shared his interests came to fruition.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue A’Hern is a poet living in Swansea, Wales.