Boy Grandad

Sprocket, Pickle, Squiggle. 

Only son: Pet Lamb, Boy-san. 

Joe, Danny Boy, Sammy, Matt-Matt, Tom – 

little tykes, little pests, put that down, 

let’s you and I have a word. 


What to do with all these boys, 

these conker-swingers, football-flingers 

these cannonballs, 

these loungers and lopers, 

underfoot then overhead, 

how to keep track of their sproutings and stretchings, 

when names have always been a trial? 


Think of them as a cubism 

of the boy who put his toy trains 

in the Morrison shelter, throwing himself 

on the mercy of the Blitz. 

Cover jaws, foreheads, noses 

in the photo albums; 

disregard the Arsenal T-shirts, 

and they are indistinguishable. 


We are getting to know Boy Grandad. 

The six-year-old sent to school 

on a different continent, 

so desolate that decades on, 

something in a photo snagged 

at a receding memory: 

‘He looks so sad.’ 


He sheds the years with his cotton-wool hair, 

reprising his crown of white fluff. 

He pokes out his tongue 

at the food he doesn’t like; 

needs help with his shoelaces 

and his hearing aids.


He and Boy-san are crossing over. 

Sometimes the photos are of them both. 

Copyright: first published in The Mays XXV, 2017, © Flora de Falbe 2016, used by permission of the author

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Flora de Falbe graduated from Cambridge in 2017 and is currently based in Oxford, studying for a master’s in creative writing while ...

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