He Had Told His Daughter Not To Bother, But

A prose piece by NATALIE RUSSO.


He had told his daughter not to bother with this scribbly drivel, but:

What if we brought our crafts together, you slot your slats, I scratch out letters? I’m going to paint your portrait.

Lend me cement and watch exactly how I make a house of your day in day outs, unqualified—yes, and the cement already burns my hands as I saw down images too confusing, search for metaphors in the skip skip skip.

God, many men on this building site.


He repeated that his daughter should really not bother detailing any of it, confiscating my materials so I could barely jot down with pencil-behind-ear that

He was already out the door moving with steel-capped boots (DeWalt) a-clomping. Dawn in the UK.

Those big loud boots warn me: I must be literal, no drivel now so OK whatever you say, watch! My commentary’s churning n’ bolting, the hands on the clock in the dashboard of the ol’ Volvo’s pulling up to 6am.

His obscure Tupperware of seasoned cabbage for lunch. Comforting, the windscreen wipers and their sounds: “um-um.” “Um-um.”

Kiss FM? Classic FM? Dad’s a Jack of all trades at 6am. Maxim Vengerov on violin 6am.

We may smell the rosin that’ll billow from his bow, the heat from your cuppa (“ta”) that’ll swirl in the car, the slits of light that’ll curl along the quiet peachy pink walls while you’re out of the house. A Plumb Center toy lorry on the mantelpiece upstairs. I think the wooden dresser breathes while you’re out. But that’s because I’m a humanities student. Tha daughter’s doolally.


She’s trying.

Recognises “it’s piddling. Work is just work to make money.”

No bars’ rest: only plaster in bucket and scraping and airing and folding whilst Vengerov’s bow is lyrically stroking; pasting and setting and smoothing, to me, your trowel has also got bowing…

Water: supply and return. Gas valve; air vent. Pressure: am I gauging? Is your vital skill of 50-odd years transferring?

Image courtesy of Marc Russo.

For her, the boiler manual’s not reading.

Dad’s realm is confusing. I’m probably confusing.

Oh, to be messenger between us, Father. To plaster words onto this paper wall and to see them alive with their little hearts pattering. Hey Diddle Diddle, I bloody well knew my efforts would be calamitous verbal traffic for his herring roll-mop sandwich.

I get upset because I’ve constructed these thin, sculptured brackets and no plasterboard will fit. Incommunicable architect. Water’s coming in through the roof, cables are in the water, “so what?” “Why bother writing?”


Actually, I can dovetail, ya daughter can. I came to show it. I came to get out a scalpel, score around your routine, throw a spanner in your works and register it, draft out a plan to finally scream that I see you have not once stopped bothering in life—so much so it is a crimson type of beautiful, when I feel like it—and that in every stair you climb and staircase you move, through your DeWalts beats your Uncle Jack’s saying in compound time, that “there’s time for sleeping when you die”. We dovetail, us Russo’s do.

Yes, dovetail, came to perform it, came out bow-holding a scalpel scoring routines wedging spanners in works and recording it, reconciling fractions of life maybe you hadn’t, the cement of work and the water of food and all the aggregates of “Music! So emotional!” and portray them as life life life more whole, more concrete.


[Hello to you and your work mates Adam and Corey and Ruggy. Until next time…]

Image courtesy of Natalie Russo.

Drafted while listening to Sibelius Violin Concerto—Maxim Vengerov violin, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


Featured image courtesy of Marc Russo.