Old Spice would tie silk cravats
in soft and billowy knots around your neck,
tucked in to a pristine white shirt
below thick framed glasses
and a mouth which stretched the distance
from Vilnius to Auckland to greet my brother
and I with a smile, your right arm drawing the
sliding door open, as your left would draw
two effervescent  grandchildren in to the kind
of hug that only someone who’s lived through
a war knows how to give punctuated with three
Polish kisses on our cheeks.

You, the one man that I knew who had
some right to be jaded, solemn, or hateful
would lean back in the old caramel coloured sofas
exclaiming in reverent, delighted wonder “oh gee!”
in that low, and rumbling voice each time my brother and I
had learned a new word or equation,
calling to the kitchen with urgency
over the wafting scent of freshly baked treats,
and the bubbling noise of the jug just moments before its boil
hastening Elizabeth to “come and look at this!” as though
we were the only children in the world
to have learned our ABC’s.

No words, in English, Polish, German or Russian,
though you knew them well, could tie your story up
as neatly as those silk cravats, none could full-stop it right
amidst life’s punctuation with pale blue Valliant’s and spa pools
golf clubs, tins of chocolate and orange bathrooms with doors ajar
while your son would trim your hair and his children would
sprawl on the carpet fixated on the ceiling of asbestos stars,
passing hours on end learning how much time we could spend
eating the fruit of a single pomegranate,
so to you who carried my surname on your back across the world,
and gathered up my first, from loving memories of a brown eyed girl
I say, do widzenia Dziadek, kochają zawsze od waszego Kasia.

One thought on “Dziadek

  1. Cat, this poem you wrote brought back so many good memories of times spent with your father’s parents. I remember so well their warmth and laughter. Oh my, could your grandmother cook. They used to send leftovers with me and Ken even though we would be staying in a hotel with no refrigeration. I would keep them outside on the window sill to stay cold while we snacked on the until they were entirely eaten. Hugs, Lindy

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