Today is two years since my grandpa passed away. He was rather wonderful *points to the photograph above*. He liked music [all kinds], especially jazz. Whenever I walked into his house he handed me a glass of sparkling tonic. He said 'It must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that.' He played the piano. He traveled the world. He played golf, and he loved cricket. He smoked a pipe, and had an inflatable toy parrot which he perched on his shoulder after he'd had a knee replacement.
When he was older, he got Parkinson's. Parkinson's tries to steal people away from themselves. It's a nasty fight, and if you know someone who has it, then you might want to consider donating your brain to Parkinson's UK.
Anyway, Parkinson's was not my grandpa. My grandpa was 'Poppa' and he was excellent. A year ago, a poem of mine 'Ullambana' [The Hungry Ghost Festival] was published in The Interpreter's House. It's about him, and home. I thought I'd share it today. x
[the hungry ghost festival]
When we sat on the hills that looked over my house
we saw Chinese lanterns we had not set free. They had
no name on their sides, just orange. They were a peaceful army.
These lanterns hold the name of a copper for the way they carry
themselves. Two metals hinged at the sides - a hip joint.
Like the Japanese flower physalis alkekengi hangs upside down
and patiently waits there.
Your hands used to move like rice paper.
'It must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that.'
You went to China and brought me dolls dressed up as air
I have Yashica photos of you building nuclear plants, a pipe half
in your mouth
and Wellington boots that covered the base of your suit.
For you, I signed a form to place my brain in a jar when I'm
done with it. They will lift it from my skull and see you.
If we were home now, I'd be looking out my bedroom window.
When I was three an owl hit the glass there and you can still
trace the outline of its feathers. I did not see it fall.
The lantern was postbox red then. It was a letter. At school we did
about the little match girl, and the next year I played a gangster.
You didn't mind which I was as long as there was music.
Over dinner my sister said to me 'When did dragons become
and somewhere you were laughing. The lamp rose as a dragon
If I were in London I would not see this
but would light a candle. It's been a year, almost,
as the crow flies. This year it is the year of the rabbit.
I go and sit myself at the piano. Play Honky Tonk parade.