Thanks to a friend, NC, I have just read a deeply moving collection of poetry by Peter Dale entitled Mortal Fire. The collection is divided into seven sections. It begins with an estranged son addressing a dead father (‘Unaddressed Letter’) and it ends with a dying father addressing an absent son (‘It Is Finished’). In between we inter alia accompany a world-weary surgeon in his reflections on lost idealistic compassion and explore the strain drug addiction places on friends and children. The ben trovato overall title comes from George Herbert: ‘Man is no starre, but a quick coal/Of mortall fire…’ The first poem is a hard act to follow. The son recognises that he is becoming his father as he gazes in the mirror (‘I watched my face become your likeness…’ and ‘Your wrinkles soon will ride my features…’) and he is eloquent on that perhaps universal sentiment, part guilt, part frustration, that all children feel towards dead parents – ‘And there are other words I would have had for you…’ , as well as on the critical thoughts we can now have without causing hurt or undermining love; ‘I could only say this now you’re dead. I know/It cannot wound you secretly…’ Thank you, NC!