Madelaine Shaw-Wong

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A Gift from my Father

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 9:35 PM

My bookshelf looms

Holding many stories

The imaginings of many writers

I reach my hand

Touch the cool covers

Smooth and familiar

My old friends and companions


My father gave me this book

A History of Alberta

I remember his face

Calm disposition

The way he spoke

The way he listened

Read this, he said

Tell me what you think


His hand warm

I put it on the bookshelf

And there it stayed

I have yet to read it

Now it’s too late

My father is dead


Photo albums

With their puffy, plastic covers

Much handled, much loved

Spines broken

I open to the pages of my childhood

The home where I grew up

My sisters and brothers

So long ago

My teenaged friendships

Giggling and whispering


A photo of my father

He is smiling

I know he forgives me

He encouraged me

When the world beat me down

He knew I needed to be stronger

I am shy, like he was


I take down the book

Sit on the floor

Flip pages of text and photos

The laying of the railroad

The First Nations people

Looking sad and confused

Calgary one hundred years ago

Dark and barren

The World Wars

Black and white misty images

Dead soldiers splayed on battle fields

Oil rigs

A hope for the future


I hear my father’s voice

Telling me stories of long ago

His voice

Deep and soothing

I turn to page one

And begin to read


                                                                                                             Dedicated to Albert Shaw 1920 - 1995

Categories: Poetry

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5 Comments

Reply [email protected]
1:02 PM on May 27, 2016 
Your comment means a lot to me, Debbie. We do need to honor our elderly relatives and their stories.
Reply Debbie
2:23 AM on May 26, 2016 
I love the way you write. This poem makes me honor my father also and many other relatives that had stories to tell that I didn't have time for in my youth and crave now. Thank you for reminding me how truly blessed we are to have had such families.
Reply [email protected]
4:48 PM on December 30, 2012 
Thank-you, Mary for your comment. I'm glad you liked the poem. Bernadette, I would like to see the book Syrup Pails and Gopher Tails. I have a vague memory of it. I'm glad that you also enjoyed the poem.
Reply Bernadette
12:45 PM on December 30, 2012 
Wow that really brings memories flooding back for me. I also started reading a book that our parents bought long ago called Syrup pails and gopher tails. It is about schools on the prairies in the early 20th century. I am quite sure there is a picture of dad in it. I'll have to show you.
Reply mary sproule manuel
10:47 PM on December 28, 2012 
Beautifully transparent poem, Madelaine, thankyou for posting it and sharing:)