I decide to do it free, without a rope or net.
First, the old brogues, dusty and cracked;
an easy scramble onto his trousers,
pushing into the weave, trying to get a grip.
By the overhanging shirt I change
direction, traverse along his belt
to an earth-stained hand. The nails
are splintered and give good purchase,
the skin of his finger is smooth and thick
like warm ice. On his arm I discover
the glassy ridge of a scar, place my feet
gently in the old stitches and move on.
At his still firm shoulder, I rest for a while
in the shade, not looking down,
for climbing has its dangers, then pull
myself up the loose skin of his neck
to a smiling mouth to drink among teeth.
Refreshed, I cross the screed cheek,
to stare into his brown eyes, watch a pupil
slowly open and close. Then up over
the forehead, the wrinkles well-spaced
and easy, to his thick hair (soft and white
at this altitude), reaching for the summit,
where gasping for breath I can only lie
watching clouds and birds circle,
feeling his heat, knowing
the slow pulse of his good heart.
By Andrew Waterhouse
People live forever in Jacksonville and St. Petersburg and Tampa,
But you don’t have to live forever to become a grampa.
The entrance requirements for grampahood are comparatively mild,
You only have to live until your child has a child.
From that point on you start looking both ways over your shoulder,
Because sometimes you feel thirty years younger and sometimes
thirty years older.
Now you begin to realize who it was that reached the height of
It was whoever said that grandparents have all the fun and none of
This is the most enticing spiderwebs of a tarradiddle ever spun,
Because everybody would love to have a baby around who was no
responsibility and lots of fun,
But I can think of no one but a mooncalf or a gaby
Who would trust their own child to raise a baby.
So you have to personally superintend your grandchild from diapers
to pants and from bottle to spoon,
Because you know that your own child hasn’t sense enough to come
in out of a typhoon.
You don’t have to live forever to become a grampa, but if you do
want to live forever,
Don’t try to be clever;
If you wish to reach the end of the trail with an uncut throat,
Don’t go around saying Quote I don’t mind being a grampa but I
hate being married to a gramma Unquote.
A surprisingly long poem by the great Ogden Nash.
One walked into shellfire for a mile
and a half
to check if a barbed wire barrier
was now holed
One built underground factories,
and stood at the end of a
bombed and burning street
One fought Ottomans in Salonika
and fought again in the next war that burnt Europe
We tell their great grandchildren,
watch them weep,
while grateful that
in most of Europe
war is distant
Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond
Each of our Grandfathers survived their wars, but my Aunt lost an fiancé — one of the many American GI’s killed on D-Day.
Merry eyes, wicked smile, teller of tales.
Grandfather mine, I would sit on your knee
hear of Susan, the Mule that liked to kick officers
and saved you on a mountain pass.
How you were called the
Prince of Baghdad by your comrades
and of meeting real Princes in India.
Self taught, you bought me
Maths books to read with you,
squeezed me into your
invalid carriage and drove to
expensive French restaurants for lunch.
Your love of life and learning
is mine, forever.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond
For my maternal Grandfather Alfred Domenico Brown, born Valetta Malta 1897, died London 1979. Much missed.