Jill Barr

Jill Barr was born in 1951. Her family emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in the West Country near Stroud in Gloucestershire. She studied English at Hull University, then trained to become a teacher. She taught in Portsmouth for 20 years. In 1995 the family moved to Christchurch, Dorset where she has lived ever since, teaching at local FE colleges before retiring. She is married with a daughter and a son.

Two Fathers

They are drawn to it. People

Have been walking this ridge                                     

Time out of mind. We meet one                                             

At Segsbury Camp; unsignposted,                           

Iron Age ramparts covered with

Wild flowers: knapweed, toadflax,

Ladies’ bedstraw. He is English,

His boys Asiatic. They are passing

A rugby ball to and fro, to and fro

Whilst he earnestly declaims

The importance of this site.

We meet at a stile; they defer

To us women. We exchange pleasantries.


The other paces a hilltop car park,

To and fro, to and fro.

Private paddy in a public place

On his phone, effing and blinding.

Three sunburnt kids and a dog

Half in, half out of the car.

The penny drops;” Have you lost a girl ?

We saw her earlier by Wayland’s Smithy.”

(Striding determinedly, inscrutably.

We don’t tell him that.) Heading on

We see him turn towards the lost sheep.


Fatherhood comes without directions,

But we all know what a father is.

We meet the first one the following day.

This time the boys are listening.