Grandfather, you were the man of the house,
the one who slacked the fire and rose at dawn
to poke it into life, a waking pulse.
You hated night-lights burning, would come down
in your stockinged feet, to flick the Bakelite switch:
our whispers in solid dark, abruptly drowned.
So I find myself, back in the old-fashioned kitchen
of the place you bought (and we sold) – a fitting home,
though I was far too absent to know it then.
Sheets on the indoor washing line. I part them
to see the door already swinging open,
the moment closing in, trailing its hem.
Is a ghost any less a ghost if it’s a dream?
You’re tired, slightly stooped in your wine-red jumper,
grey sides of your bald head slick with Brylcreem.
Our eyes don’t meet. I know why we are here:
for you to begin again, retell each story
and me to finally listen, and remember.
I rifle the nearest dresser drawer (the one
with rubber gloves, corks, scissors, snarls of twine . . .)
for a pencil stub and anything to write on.
You sigh, ask for ‘a cup of tea’, and I take
those words down as the dream-silt stirs and dims
and muddles me awake.