First published in April 2023

My grandmother was chicken-plump.
She wore long earrings, smelled of
Pears' soap and lavender water. 
She kept cream in a jug under
a blue-beaded net. 

Grandfather kept us both
on a tight rein, our place 
at the kitchen sink. When Gran's mind
slipped slightly out of gear
I was her memory. 

Nearly always, that is. She peeled
potatoes once, put them ready
for Grandfather's tea and forgot
to light the gas. He was furious. 
I saw Gran's tears. 

Upstairs, in the narrow hall 
I waited, scuffing the turkey-red rug.
He took his time. The flush thundered.
His shape vultured against 
the door. I was raw 

as carrion. 'It's not fair. 
You made Gran cry.' He lunged at me.
'How dare you, child? How dare you
speak to me like that?' Picked clean
by anger I ran. 

'Don't mind him,' my grandmother said.
'He likes his tea on time.' The matter
was closed. Grandfather tore into 
his beef stew and mashed potatoes. 
I pushed my plate away.