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I am his daughter (reprise)

This poem was originally inspired by Nige's hospital series. One of the characters he wrote about reminded me of my dad a little. It is a poem I have revisited often because after I had written it, I realised there was still so much more story to tell. And I do like poems that tell stories.


I am his daughter


He sits up in the bed child-like grinning at all who pass

but when I sit down he looks surprised.

His fingers fuss.

He lights an imaginary cigarette.

Now I know why the fingers were fussing.

It is not until it does not touch his lips that he realises.

‘Silly me,” he says. And brushes it away as if it were crumbs


I am his daughter,

I am his sister,

I am someone he does not know.


The next time I see him he is asleep.

Pinned in by crisps white sheets and bound by hospital corners.

“He keeps getting up’’ the nurse complains, as if he were a naughty child.

“I can hear you,” he says - eyes closed.

When she has gone he tells me to,

“Watch that one she’s mean.”

He makes me smile.


I am his daughter,

I am his sister,

I am someone he does not know.


His face lights up when he sees me.

He calls me Sheila and introduces me as his little sister.

He tells me he has a secret.

He has a girl in London and a girl in Edinburgh. What should he do?

I feign surprise.

Then tell him to visit the girl in London.

She is my mother.


I am his daughter,

I am his sister,

I am someone he does not know.


Later he asks me if I have a light.

I tell him he cannot smoke in here.

He looks around, then nods at me politely.

He asks me the time.

I tell him’ ‘It’s just after six’.

He tells me he should be getting home,

he has work in the morning.


I am his sister,

I am his daughter,

I am someone he does not know.







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3 Comments


Dawson Stafford
Dawson Stafford
Apr 06, 2023

Wow this one is dark but gets to the core of the narritive. Brilliant!

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Nigel Smith
Nigel Smith
Apr 06, 2023

Brilliant Ali, it moved me deeply before, and no less just now.

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Jes Derry
Jes Derry
Apr 05, 2023

A very emotional write. Tender, sad full of love. Beautiful.

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