Sunday, September 02, 2007
Me and my gran circa 1955.
This post was prompted by the "grandparents" theme at One Deep Breath.
It was twenty years after she died that I finally wrote about her. This poem was first published in Green's Magazine (Canada) and is included in my collection Limbo Time.
Like those others whose grans
were growing old when they were
growing boys, I remember you
for your apple pies and golden pancakes, syrup-laden —
my elder brother often being sent
to bring me home from your bungalow
long after my own tea had grown cold.
That was the time when granddad sat
in the high-backed wooden chair
my mother set fire to when he died —
the sort of chair that claims
a fortune in antique shops today — but
my small, frail gran, I remember you much more
than that gaunt, great man who only sat.
You lived later in our council-house front room,
too weak to climb upstairs, too unsafe
to be left with your diabetes -
twice daily my mother tested your water —
and so that we could take a holiday
my sister and her husband came to stay
while I went with Mum and Dad
to a rented van at Thornwick Bay.
Tomorrow would be Thursday and I'd been promised
a trip on the Yorkshire Belle from Bridlington,
but Wednesday night we learnt that you had died.
That means I won't be able to go on the boat tomorrow!
the first reaction of a saddened twelve-year-old.
Dad attempted logically to explain, but all
unnecessarily - I knew that you deserved the sacrifice.
Twenty years on and I've finally made the trip
round Flamborough Head, past Thornwick Bay,
and back to Bridlington — with my own son
and his gran - his Mum's Mum like you.
Gran! — I never begrudged you dying on that day.
The waves remind me always of you, gran, because
the trip was well worth the waiting for!
and finally a new tanka
granddad in his high-back chair
pancakes for tea
before big brother comes
to drag me home