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“Perseverance, that’s what these children lack.”

I can still hear my father saying it, and I still flinch at the bitter contempt curdled into the word children. I thought perhaps I’d have forgotten, by now, but I hear his words more and more these days, just as I see him more and more – in the so familiar pattern of creases spanning my own brow, in the grizzling of my beard and in the silver that spirals into my patriarchal mane. Yeah, me, a patriarch; I wish that he could see it, though not so earnestly as I wish he could see this community that I lead, every scavenged spar, every upcycled cable, every field claimed by hard labour from the shifting silts of the estuary.

But still, even as I curse him, sometimes I wonder: just how many times might I have given up along the road, if I had not had the memory of his contempt to goad me on?

Well, it has taken me about every trick I know to make that five sentences, as the prompt requires (this prompt, go and see), but maybe if I persevere I’ll do it cleaner, by and by?


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