Boy Grandad

Sprocket, Pickle, Squiggle.

Only son: Pet Lamb, Boy-san.

Joe, Danny Boy, Sammy, Matt-Matt, Tom –

little tykes, little pests, put that down,

let’s you and I have a word.


What to do with all these boys,

these conker-swingers, football-flingers

these cannonballs,

these loungers and lopers,

underfoot then overhead,

how to keep track of their sproutings and stretchings,

when names have always been a trial?


Think of them as a cubism

of the boy who put his toy trains

in the Morrison shelter, throwing himself

on the mercy of the Blitz.

Cover jaws, foreheads, noses

in the photo albums;

disregard the Arsenal T-shirts,

and they are indistinguishable.


We are getting to know Boy Grandad.

The six-year-old sent to school

on a different continent,

so desolate that decades on,

something in a photo snagged

at a receding memory:

‘He looks so sad.’


He sheds the years with his cotton-wool hair,

reprising his crown of white fluff.

He pokes out his tongue

at the food he doesn’t like;

needs help with his shoelaces

and his hearing aids.



He and Boy-san are crossing over.

Sometimes the photos are of them both.

first published in The Mays XXV, 2017, © Flora de Falbe 2016, used by permission of the author.

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