“Do you know, Grandpa, this book has seventeen
chapters, and I’m on chapter fifteen,
‘The Forbidden Forest’?” “I didn’t,” I say,
“That’s excellent!” and this seven year old,
who has mastered the use of apostrophes,
curls up, like the proverbial worm
on the sofa, and continues to read
‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’.
I am re-reading, in English, ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’.
In the garden, using extended loppers,
Grandma is cutting choice blooms from a rose
we have had some thirty years, a rambler
as high as our upper floor and worthy
of Sleeping Beauty’s entranced gardens.
I look up to watch my grandchild read. My pride
tempts me to ask fatuous questions –
“Are you enjoying it? What’s it about?” –
then speak of alchemy. Humility
prevails. I hear Grandma in the kitchen.
She is hammering the ends of the stems.
The deep scent of the roses, from wherever
she has placed the vase, enters the lounge
like a wisp of sweet smoke.