Cup of tea
My Grandma died 7 years ago of cancer. We were close in that sense of feeling completely comfortable together and being able to share a multitude of things, one of which was a sense of humour, the other being a love of words. Grandma regularly did the crossword and we always played Scrabble when I went to see her.
About four months ago, my Grandma started visiting me… no, not a ghostly apparition at the end of my bed or a dark shadow against a wall, nothing spooky like that. But she kept appearing to me in my head every night when I was in bed and about to go to sleep, or if I woke up in the night. She never spoke, she was just there. It was odd. I’d never experienced this before and wasn’t sure why. About three weeks ago, she stopped visiting. I don’t know why she stopped either. I can consciously conjure her up, as I am doing now, because I feel her absence, but this is not the same as what was happening before. What was happening before took me by surprise.
I have a theory about this. I have a thought about why she came, but I don’t understand why she has now gone. My Grandma was adopted and raised in Southampton. This could have no significance, but over the past four months there have been continual reccurences in my life related to Southampton and that area – quite bizarre and disconnected things. I do believe in signs. I don’t always know their meaning and didn’t used to give them much credance, but lately, as I see how pieces fit together, I have started to listen to them more. Of course, maybe it’s because my mind has been on my Grandma that I have noticed these occurences… who’s to say?
I didn’t see Grandma much while she was ill, so still retain the memories of her as she was. About three years ago, I wrote a poem about her, about how things were at her old home, about how things had been when we were kids – we grandchildren – and descended on her spasmodically throughout the year, and visited en masse every Christmas. Words are memories, and memories are words. Poetry can freeze-frame moments in time, capture memories and hold them tightly forever. I hope this poem does just that…
Cup of Tea
The alleyway, the tall side gate,
closed, but unlocked, on a latch,
beneath the open water tank.
The swirly glass in your back door.
The grey-blue floor.
The cabinets and cupboards ceiling tall,
the metal meter on the wall
a small collection of 50 p’s,
the kettle boiling for a hot cup of tea,
the velvet square
that slips and slides on shiny table top.
A plant. A picture. Our family cut up in squares,
smiling and waving
beyond the swollen arch,
its curtain shutting out the cold –
light the fire.
But the fire lies bare as
the settee backs against the wall
and stares at Grandad’s empty chair.
China figures, curly-haired,
men with dogs and sticks
and fair-faced women in petticoats,
dance around imagined light –
I wonder if they sleep at night.
The kettle boils. I pour
but have forgotten to put the tea bag in,
and she laughs until her sides hurt
and leans into the worktop,
her tiny body angled in.
Beneath, a box,
a Noddy in a yellow car,
an angry looking buffalo,
a set of wooden dominos
and at the table, waiting,
a game of Scrabble on a velvet square
that slips and slides,
its letters hidden
beneath the waves.
I rarely won,
and yet, now, I always do.
I have it here, asleep in my lap,
reminding me of you.