January 24th, 2005

Family Pieties

I haven’t had a bonfire as big as this in years. All the wood that had fallen off my mother’s trees this past autumn and winter was piled in a heap- and I offered to set light to it.


My father and I used to bond over bonfires- in a gruff, tight-lipped, manly way.

That was yesterday. This morning I was going through a suitcase of photos belonging to my grandfather and found the draft of a poem he must have written as a young man. I couldn’t make much sense of the middle because of all the crossings out- so I’ve omitted it.

Oh if I knew an enchanting walk
Away from relations inarticulate talk,
A little lone, but far from town
In which I might find a bed of down
Where aching boots and weary mind
Might lie and soliloquize for a time.

One day I am sure I shall find
On this troubled earth of minds
This undisturbed and restful grave.

I showed it to my mother. “Oh dear,” she said cheerfully, “and we cremated him.”