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My Grandmother's Trunk

So, as some of you know, I've been working on some poetry for an upcoming event (today, eek!) and this idea's been fiddling around for a while. When my brothers and I were a lot younger, my grandparents used to live on the other side of London, miles away, and it would take several hours of Beatles tapes and car games to get there, usually with at least one of us getting somewhat nauseous en route. I Spy was a classic, obviously, not least because meant everyone had to look straight ahead, which was handy on the twisty lanes, but My Grandmother's Trunk wasn't far behind.

Unfortunately my grandma died in the middle of March - actually, both my grandmas died in quick succession, which was a bit overwhelming - and since then I've been helping my dad to pick through the pieces of her incredibly cluttered flat and work out what needs to be kept. I may have got some dates wrong, but otherwise everything in this poem exists and has spent the last month being unpacked and carefully organised, mostly by my poor father. You'll get the general impression in a minute 

 I unpacked my grandmother's trunk, and I found...

seven silk-smooth dresses, bridesmaid gowns
from endless family affairs,

a packet of passport photos, foxed and
faded, dating
back to 1959,

a cupboard containing nothing
but first-aid kits,

the entire Readers Digest catalogue of classical music, remastered
for cassette tape, unopened
and unheard,

a six-pack of Stain Devils,
(for tea, red wine, fruit and juice)

a broken clockwork mouse, with no tail
left to speak of

a wide drawer packed
with endless, perfectly coiled, carefully
preserved bundles
of string,

a white cape, feathered, like the wings
of a bird,

twenty six candlesticks and fifty three
candles, scattered
and enshrined
around the dingy flat,

an unfinished jigsaw puzzle of London bridge, still
rolled up, resplendent,
in green felt,

five more bottles of Stain Devils: for use on
cooking oil, and fat,

three 40-piece canteens of silver-plated, bone
handled cutlery,

and a weathered copper crown.

And books on The Bible, books on Britain, books on
building up, and breaking down,

and a hint of my grandpa's tobacco, lingering,
in the creases of a folded sheet.

I found
twelve well-washed j-cloths,
eleven different gadgets, all
for wiping a surface
clean, and ten
of those little rubber gizmos
designed for use as a bottle-

Nine electric heads (for a toothbrush
mysteriously missing), eight
folk-art milkjugs, seven swans,
sitting in ornamental splendour
on her dressing table,
six new towels, still in their wrapping,
five old tins -

(of tuna, from 2006)
four tired phones, three
jars of French mustard, left
two china doves,
and a stollen from 2003.

I unpacked my grandmother's trunk,
(a Louis Vuitton, from 1925), and I found
glimpses of memory
of the person she had been,
like my cousin's image, hanging
in the hall. A 
sprig of pressed flowers, a tiny vase
(made by my dad, in his youth), and a

A brown paper envelope, containing
an inventory of my artwork and poetry, ages
five to fifteen,

all of my grandpa's passports,

and a small trunk of love-letters,
to be burnt,
after death.

I unpacked my grandmother's flat,
and picked out the parts I wanted, like a storyteller
hard at work.

But when I looked back, there was
nothing. Just a bit of life,
under dust.  


So, yeah. What do you think? Obviously, it's not perfect, but I think I'd quite like to read it at this thing tonight. Is this advisable? Or a really terrible idea? Give me some feedback, please?! 


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
I think you should read it, yes.
Apr. 28th, 2012 09:56 am (UTC)
didit! But thank you... :)
Apr. 27th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I like it! I think it's fine to read tonight but I think there is definitely room for improvement (and I say this with the greatest love). I don't know how much crit you want?
Apr. 28th, 2012 09:54 am (UTC)
oh crit me baby, crit me harder...
Apr. 27th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading it - I'm sure people would love hearing it. Hope it will be cathartic :) xx
Apr. 28th, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
thank you my love. When are you around? We should do stuff... xxx
Apr. 29th, 2012 11:45 am (UTC)
I really liked it. I think it is a lovely idea for a poem. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


waiting in a photobooth, libs

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