New verse by writer Amanda Kennedy.
Write about your father’s father
At school, the task today is
write about your father’s father.
You find it slightly hard to breathe as people at your table tell their stories
I mean, if you have ever read School Journals,
You will know that grandads aren’t supposed to be half bad
Start with a picture, says the teacher, tapping on your page
But Miss, I never met my father’s dad, you whisper to her with dismay
You must know something about him, teacher says
….You do. You hold your pencil loosely, though,
As if it were a little like a mast, a ship at sail in the surging sea
A way of getting far away
A way of getting free, from
Tell us what you know about your father’s father, says the teacher, marching past.
But Miss –
But nothing! Hurry up. You’re going to finish last. So draw the picture first, and make it fast.
You fill your sails with air and start to draw.
I’m telling, says the girl who sits next door a moment later when she looks across
So as the teacher comes your way, you try to cover up your page
but teacher sees, and teacher says
What’s this picture of? Is that your mum and dad?
You knew already that you’d drawn something bad,
but can’t just say out loud that that IS grandad,
on your Aunty Jane,
when she was just your age,
so you try to frame it to her like it’s just a game
That’s a little balloon in the bed, and that’s my grandad, on top
letting all the air leak out of her head!
But look at teacher’s face, gone all dark grey like thunder
And so you whisper, I told you I don’t know him.
The other kids, they try to get a look as teacher tears a page out of your book
You drop your pencil on the floor
The surging sea has become a roar
And all the air has gone out of your sails.
When Dad hangs up the phone that night,
He turns around and slowly says, That was Teacher and she told me what you did today.
Your voice and hands start shaking but you do try to explain:
I told her I can’t draw my grandad right –
But Dad, he grabs your hand and holds it tight
Lets out a great big silence
It grows across the table til you want to crawl inside it,
curl up in a ball
And finally he says,
My girl, you
drew him perfectly.
That’s your father’s father
from his grave
letting the air
out of us all
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