Today was a beautiful day of pink roses and sunshine and small importances. My grandma and I visited Polesden Lacey today, and with the air heavy with bee wings and dusted with pollen- sticky children smiles made of ice cream, we talked about how much she hates Michael Gove and why love does not lead to tragedy. She told me about her gone bunch of 12 red roses; how they grew to 24, replicated on his coffin this month past. She quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning to me in her familiar brummie accent- “what words can ever speak affection so thrilling and sincere as thine?”; and I can see the streets she played on when her father was in the factories, feel her feet, young again through mine running hard on the pavements.
My grandma teaches me the importance of care- her insistence on my eating lemon cake. I understand the importance of fighting for what we aren’t born with but deserve. We aren’t born knowing how to read, or how to make strawberry jelly or how to grow parsley- but we teach each other, over and over how to spit in the eyes of hate and survive without tearing our hair out. Caring doesn’t have to manifest in big, powerful “STRONG AND STABLE” ways. Caring is talking to strangers about Women’s Institute raffle tickets. It is seeing those around you and wanting to feel with them, regardless of whether they were a Maharajah or not.
Today’s poem is about my granddad, as this poem is my grandma’s favorite that I have written. Long live love xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo
It was New Year’s Eve- red dragons fringed jade,
gold. The whole Beale clan Dim Sum stuffed
with Ned’s favourite kind of rice. Pandemonium
formed of us scuffedkneed, bath scrubbed Masters and Mistresses:
chasing each other through Pokémon slot machines
and freaky apothecary shops. Mr Po and
old patriarch in cahoots over duck pancakes and wine.
He bade me not taste the pink rice paper petals, for once to be a
good girl. Smirking I gulped lotus shapes whole. One memory
of many relating how grandad tried to be
our kind of king of kings; what men or gods are these?
This must sound barmy from me-
Chumbler, his bolshy arch nemesis Malone.
Grumbling low over his glasses that there’s no need to be obstinate…
Those gutwrenching dinnertime fables
of convent girl kisses making me want to puke up grandma’s jelly.
I refuse to recall before or after her, our banana split lady-
us Beale’s are not raised for such lifeless things.
I can conjure a Liverpool street now-
Feeling dandy as you Beatle pleasepleasing your Birmingham Brightstar;
A blonde haired stunner shining strawberriy fields from
your CNA shop window displays. Still steadfast,
still unchangeable after Belgium, now Banstead. Sat
together each morning, night-
spilling cornflakes perusing the Guardian;
competing who can mumblemoan about some sport show the longest,
then snoring asleep
to the Archers.
20 Ashley Drive and its crazy
stoned streetgarden hosted so many childhoods- blue smurf armies and Obelix comics.
Muppets or sooty upstairs and our pillowfight midnight feasts;
those giddykippers, silly boys and girls.
Pog, Ozymandias, Big Al, young Masters Tommy and Ned-
Perhaps it was us who drove you to this-
or our fathers before- butterball, stretch and Nicky- who knows?
Another New Year’s, another showcase of my stubbornness,
inherited I wonder from where…
Refusing to dance and Old langsyne with you all,
downing champagne with regal indignation,
only 13 year olds and you in your armchair know;
I never understood why you huffed and puffed for my singing,
now, I’ll not have any chance to vex-
or take your hand, the heart that fed or see a face
smiling red- your safe for a while at least. Perhaps
I should have sung that bloody song, held bloomin’ hands;
but all the harm that e’er I’ve done,
Alas, it was to none but me….
Us remaining Beale’s lift up this parting glass-
oh, a beaker full, warm from your wine sauna-cellar;
full of the true, the blushful grapes of claret memory-
your blue bound book of Keats, Peanuts love tokens and your own lost flying father-
Love is letting him win- even though you know you could destroy him;
is having a special song, oh please stay Chrissy’s Teddybear, cause tigers play too rough-
Love is hating to say goodbye.
We lift up the parting glass,
you do not leave this world unseen; we drink with thee, you cannot fade away
into forests dim; Now stretch that low chuckle and kick about where you’re happiest-
the pub, cricket pitch, Sri Lankan trips or your three boy’s company;
Stillness. Pillowed next to grandma each morning…
Grandad, why is your sandwich shaking?