THE PATELLA HAMMER
Family legend has it he packed it
in his rucksack to hammer in tent-pegs
when he went hiking in the Zugspitze.
Almost an international incident –
Liverpool medic stranded in Germany
at the outbreak of war.
Where his ancestors quarried stone
he worked in bone – trading their crude tools
for something neat and silver.
He tapped my childish reflexes –
mostly in fun – always
the same knee-jerk reaction.
Once when my injured leg unnumbed
he placed a football at my foot
and tapped my knee-cap
and when I kicked the ball
he clapped and clapped as if
I’d scored a goal for England.
Michael Henry’s last collection is an illuminating quest for identity. The first two parts of the book chart a ‘genealogical gold rush’ following a surprise discovery of German forebears, a secret that had lain buried during two world wars. Henry pens an endearing portrait of his father, a surgeon, who is the gateway to this new found ancestry. The themes of loss and discovery, identity and knowledge run through the whole collection. Henry unfolds his world with his signature eye for detail, a gentle sense of humour and a vital intimacy that immediately draws the reader in.