A JAR OF STICKLEBACKS


For a thousand years…are…as a watch

in the night.’ Psalm 90, The Authorized Version.

 

We are looking for Roary Lion and

Twit Whu Owl, my grand daughter and I –

sitting companionably side by side

on the sofa, she not yet one, me close

to the ‘days of my years’, as the psalmist says –

lifting the flaps on each of the pages

to find the beasts and release the sounds, she

concentrating like a biblical scholar

until, as a devil or an angel,

not unreasonably, boredom arrives.

She turns, climbs up her Grandpa, first tries to

remove his beard tuft by tuft, and then does

the old Milton Berle gag with his glasses

and laughs – and suddenly I remember

my grandpa, at my age now, his only

son recently dead, his two brothers,

Red Army officers, killed in action,

their families massacred at Babi Yar.

 

One day, with my mother, I netted

three sticklebacks in a pond on the Heath.

She carried them home in a jam jar.

I took it, insisting at four I could

go alone, up the back steps of the flats

to show Grandpa. I dropped it, watched it

shatter on the concrete. He heard my wails,

picked up the frantic fish, found a new vessel.

 

Twelve months ago you were someone we knew

nothing about but a heartbeat. Now you are

unmistakably, uniquely you –

a voracious wit, a chortling learner.

Nevertheless, it may be some time

before you decipher these signs, even

longer before they have meaning.

So, if you do, when you do, imagine me

holding up to the light, unbroken,

a jar with all your wishes, all your hopes.

 

Note: the poem was first published by Armadillo Central – http://www.armadillocentral.com/armadillo-central/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-david-selzer

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Jo Sykes - January 28th, 2013 at 18:50

    A lovely collection, David. I particularly liked the poem about your granddaughter!

  2. #2 by John Huddart - February 22nd, 2013 at 16:01

    Both moving and very, very connected. Love, peace and eternity!!!!!!

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