Sunday, 24 June 2018

Oil man


Slightly sentimental piece in memory of my Dad, who died 40 years ago today.

Walter Biggs, 27.7.1912 – 24.6.1978

Oil man
No one understood engines like he did.
He’d stand there, listen, and he knew,
he always knew what to do.
He was the car doctor.

They came from miles,
or called for him to come if they couldn’t
   get started.
His large strong hands with hairy backs
could shift the toughest nuts and bolts,
yet with those same fingers
he’d fix the finest needle in a carburettor.
So deft, so sure of his actions.

The best sight in the world was seeing
his legs sticking out from under some car;
or bent-backed, head under the bonnet,
brown overall flapping,
baggy trousers billowing,
feet in slippers (if Mum didn’t catch him first).

The pungent scent of engine oil
 seeped through his skin.
It was the driving force in his veins,
working silently
to make everything work.

He had it all for us:
ignition, timing,
he was our shock absorber,
our brake,
our strength.
The oil in all our works.