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Goodbye Granny Robinson


After midnight yet the room can’t sleep

bedclothes rearrange themselves, some fall,

a painting on the wall so monochrome and still

when it was young begins to feel the pain of shaking limbs

wind rising through it’s trees, as from an open balcony

as if on cue a chilly breeze gusts in with sounds of hills.

Window frame fingers pause into the latch

while from a face of star-blown curtain, eyes look out

past rushing silhouettes to lamps of nearby cottages

that flicker through the leaves


The rug bunches, gathered on stone floor

it knows something is wrong.  Beyond the half opened door

a dog’s blanket scratches itself, fleas hungry for warm fur.


Down a flight of stairs the desk lamp glows

a glow of many sleepless nights. The manuscripts, piled

high on shelves and stacked in heaps alongside stairs,

somnambulists themselves, consider this and that

a word, a phrase that might perhaps be expressed a different way.


It’s going to be a long night, the kitchen clock ticks,

trembles through the minutes.  In the garage her car,

its rubber treads uneasy, looks through its mirror

past the open gate to the street, so empty now

where only a faint trace of ambulance exhaust hangs in the air

reluctant for a second, then rushes red tail-lamped down the hill.



Feed the cats, she wrote, their food is in the yellow bin

except for Sweetie, she has no teeth left and needs to eat

the contents of half a can from the bottom shelf in the pantry.

The doggie gets a cupful of kibble from the green bin, please

wash the bowls before you fill them and flush away any ants.


The windows need to be cleaned only once a fortnight, change

my bedclothes even if they still seem fresh.  I like the fragrance

of washing powder that lingers, and the warmth of sun-dried

clothes on the line next to the climbing pink roses.


Oh and don’t forget to water the garden, it’s almost automatic:

leave the first faucet on for half an hour, then close it and open

the second one for a similar time, you should hear the sprinklers

swirling from the bedroom.  Please leave the window half opened

and draw the sashes back.  Did I ever tell you how sweetly the birds

warble at precisely half past four in the morning, better than the

nicest Mozart sonata, first a lone blackbird, then the robins join in

and some fellow out there beyond the pond often adds his three-toned

flutes, I wish I could see him to identify him.


Phone me in the nursing home when you’re through and tell me how

things are with you. Are you still leaving for boarding school

in September?  How will I ever manage without you?  If I don’t answer

leave a message with the nurse.  If I’m not there, I’ll be paddling

my canoe down God’s river.  Give my love to your brother and tell

him that I said to be careful with that bike.


Please take your pocket money from the tea tin on the kitchen sideboard,

if there’s insufficient change you may round it up to the nearest dollar.




In a yellowed notebook she finds her grandmother’s voice again

whispering through the spider web of her fine-nibbed pen, sees again

her brushed sunlight golden bobby pins and there at the bottom of the page

a wisp of granny’s favorite cologne—dry as a fragrant teardrop

as she lies tucked under her blanket recalling how she would read her

yet another page softly turned…

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© Johnmichael Simon



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