Grandpa’s Garden What kind of ancestor would you like to be?
This is the garden you tended for us, tucked away at the end of an unmade road, nearly in sight of the sea; a green growing of life, after study, science and service, after making your contribution, receiving your OBE.
This is the garden you tended for us; a sun-trap for tea and cakes, where those who like to work water spinach and pick raspberries, and those who like to rest put their feet up on the floral cushions of a reclining plastic deck-chair.
When you stopped for a break between weeding and mowing the lawn, Demi would rest in the shade, planning her beagle adventures, and the friendly robin would land on your chair ready to help with the crumbs.
I come here to sit in my dreams, summer sunshine, fragrant with roses, between the house and the high, sheltering hedge, podding peas and chatting, or idling on the ground.
This is the garden you tended for us, the place beyond where you chose to grow flowers.
Hannah Mackay’s poetry is informed by her healing practice as a shiatsu practitioner. Her interest in embodied creativity includes dance and movement, connection and quiet, stillness and words. Her Grandpa was Clifford Purkis, who retired to Cornwall after a career as a research scientist. She lives in Manchester.
Those salt and vinegar days and freshly laundered nights pool in my mind, bucketed under ‘holiday memories with Grandpa’ revisited as often as the rain,
as familiar as pavement petrichor worn smooth as pebbles, yet short, sharp, distinct, their postcard length lines make me wish I was there again.
Memories of Grandpa
One gold sleeve garter, the donkeys bray, smell of wild garlic, spritzed with sea spray.
Your Underwood typewriter, Little Wuff stories, whispered voices in Bridlington Priory.
My hand in yours I’ll hold to this day, tucked up in my memory neatly folded away.
Kate Jenkinson is a Northern poet, Manchester Literature Poetry Slam and Squiffy Gnu competition winner and published in Covid and Poetry, Rainbow Poems and Eyeflash Poetry Journal. Kate performs spoken word at open mics whilst working on her pamphlet. She writes about science, nature, relationships and leadership.
It lurks just there in that bush the one fifty years in the past in that eonic time-travelling hush. There’s a rustle. Perhaps it’s a bear? A nocerinous, for sure, Father said or perhaps a hipporinoscercow. I was sure it was all in his head but I spot them with my grandkids now.
It’s always been a joke between us all. ‘Did you hear the thunderstorm last night?’ they ask. Not me. I sleep like great big oaks, fixtures in the landscape.
Except: with young ones in my care. I marvel that a storm has yet to rouse me from my sleep, but one small mew, a tiny snuffle out of place, and I’m wide awake and by the child’s side.
A gift, I think.
The best of gifts, as well. The type of gift that just goes on forever. For in the dark, with baby in my arms our skins connecting as he drinks his milk that golden buzz, the love that bathes us both, feeds our lucky lives, nourishes our hearts.
Charlie Markwick is a Gloucester-based professional storyteller and poet. He is poet-in-residence at Gloucester Library. Charlie conducted the street-based interviews on Soundbites Week during the search for Gloucestershire’s Poet Laureate in 2019. His book ‘Orienteering’ is a collection of poems that appear in his current show of the same name. His poetry has been published in the Gloucestershire Poetry Society annual anthology ‘Magic’ (2019) and in ‘Today I feel Hawaii’ – an anthology edited by Brenda Read-Brown. His poems about dementia have been included in a number of newsletters and training resources.