Another poem from my first collection. Farnworth, where I am delivering Flash Fiction workshops for Pages Ago, is where my grandad lived. Russell street was demolished long ago, and Russell Court is there now.
My dad was estranged from his family becase he married a Catholic, and became one by personal belief, not just to marry. The family refused to attend the wedding and there was a ten year silence from them.
Consquently, visits to my dad’s family were awkward. Just once I remember my mum taking me, when grandad was supposeed to be dying. I was morbidly fascinated by the gleam of a white chamber pot, like a skull, grinning at me from under the bed.
He did not die, and lived on to be rehoused in a modern bungalow near my primary school, where I would sometimes call in on him, Even though he was deaf and could not understand me I felt I wanted to know my only living grandparent. He is buried in the church yard of St Luke’s Church, Farnworth, where I will be working on Friday. It’s been a strange voyage for me going back to Widnes.
The bike is leaned against a wall,
I’m lifted down, a gate unlatched;
Led up the yard he used to play in,
Weeks of tea leaves in the drain;
Through fusty kitchen to a room
Whose fire glares, rising in its grate.
My outdoor things keep me safe
From their strangers’ claim on me.
A clock shouts from the mantel, filling words
That father, son, stepmother reach to use.
He holds out his arms. I edge
Closer to dad, try “Going now?”.