China nik-naks mist with aspidistra;
I recall Gran’s spick and span parlour,
opened only to select visitors.
Gran titivated the room after he’d gone;
I laid out a board game with Kate.
We slid down snakes and climbed ladders;
she perched on a leather pouffe while
I squatted on the woven willow stool
Grandpa had crafted for me.
When the alien invaded his kidneys,
a fold-up bed was tucked
into the corner by the window.
Hushed voices slithered under
the door; Gran gathered me in
to say hello.
Unshaved, his shadow lay propped
on plumped pillows,
gaunt and unspeaking.
I should have kissed him goodbye,
before he slept
with brass handles on oak.
© Eira Needham
© capricorn 2023