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 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.