Stranger, Grandfather

Never knew you properly
in the fifteen years
our lives overlapped.
This great expanse of country
always lay between us.

Don’t even know
what I don’t know
about you.
About the life of a military man
who seemed so gentle and quiet that
I couldn’t picture him in uniform.

And I don’t want to ask
because it’s been years but
tears are still fresh in everyone’s eyes
and it seems a bit late now.

One thing I do know
besides your need for thick glasses
and your indifference toward disappearing hair,
was your love
of the garden below your house.
Of the cherries you grew and picked and presented
to me
in a mug
one morning
during my visit,
six months before the cancer came.

I’ve never liked cherries.
And I couldn’t swallow them
even for you.

I left them there in the fridge,
left you with them
and flew back home.


Zoe Barnard

Zoë Barnard is a freelance editor and writer, who lives and works in Perth.

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