My Granddad passed away in 2012 and the other night, just before falling asleep, I felt that horrible rush of grief. I started to think about the walks we would take and today this was written.
A Country Lane In Yorkshire
This is the country lane I used
to walk with my Granddad.
His hand could always close
completely over mine.
It was almost magic.
I dodge the same yawning potholes,
filled with quivering black water.
Once, the water was clear,
cluttered with bundles
We brought some home once,
dropped it gently into the garden pond,
watched the black specks grow.
There is a photograph of my Dad
as a young boy. He’s standing here
where I stand now.
The photo is in sepia and has
a coffee stain in the top right corner,
near the heads of his two brothers.
They’re looking directly into the eye
of the camera, all mushroom haircuts
and chalky smiles.
My Dad is looking shyly
at his hobnail boots, hands deep
in his pockets, hair nearly in his eyes.
In the photo, my Dad is wearing
a parka with a map pocket at the front.
There’s a compass around his neck,
though he knows the back woods
as well as the rhythm of his own pulse
For a moment, I consider pushing
my way through a gap in the hedge
bordering the lane from the woods.
It takes everything in my power not
to try and see if my Granddad is waiting
on the other side.
I continue on, come to the boundary
of Studley Deer Park.The gate is locked.
I turn around and slowly start back.
The sun is deep beneath the branches
of bent oaks where witches once
grappled, choked and swung.
The air is starting to get cold
and foxes bark in the woods.
At home, Nanna will be mashing tea.
Granddad will still be gone.