After the war was over


In the silence of morning
I wait for water to boil
remembering my grandmother’s kitchen
and her bent half into the oven
(twice the size of me then
half the size of me now)
and how I would watch her
lay out the salad for tea
in her tiny corporation house
washing the lettuce
to put it in some colander
plastic blue and double-sided
before standing on the back step
and swinging it thro and forth
to drain off the tap water.

It was always Sunday then
and past her aproned shoulder
I remember the Anderson shelter
in the middle of their handkerchief garden
which my father had slept in
when bombs dropped on Greenford
during the second world war.

I can hear my grandfather coughing
laughing and coughing and laughing
through the wall of the other room
and it seems strange to me now
that when upstairs I never paused
to think beside that second little bedroom
this is where he grew up, my father
where he sat as I sit
where he played as I play
and stranger still is that I’ve never thought about it
until now
(although in my dreams I hear him coughing)
and that I’ve never had this sense of loss
until now
and that they are all gone.