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U3A Writing: The Well: 15 Father

“It’s a good feeling when a man takes his grandson in his hands...’’

So begins the poem which brings Paddy Webb’s verse biography of her great-grandfather John Ayling to a satisfying conclusion.

It's a good feeling when a man takes his grandson in his hands.
This one is mine, my Jack's boy.
With your own, it's just another hungry mouth to feed,
I should know.
But a grandson is different,
a grandson's the future.

It's like war in there, the two women sitting
Either side of the fire, not speaking, no tea made.
So we've come out, the boy in his petticoats,
And me, to get some fresh air.

Now, look, did you ever meet such a pig?
Jet black, see those hams? Feed it on windfalls
And there'll be some meals to dream about this autumn.
What are you laughing at?
Oh, the wind in the leaves.
That's my apple tree. Know what your grandma
Told your dad? Knocking apples down, he was.
You wicked Lad, she said. Don't you know that's
How babies are made? You poke that apple down,
You'll see, there will be another baby in this house,
And it will all be your fault. Sure enough within the week
There was a new baby, screaming in the crib,
Young Jack not knowing where to put himself.

It's a wonder you got born, Lad, with tales like that.
Your Ma says it's John, but between the two of us
I think I'll call you Jack, just for you and me.
Now this is my well, cold crystal that.
They say soon each house will have a tap
But it wont be like my water from the well.
Here's your Dad coming, let's open the gate.
Perhaps now there will be a truce, and a bite to eat.


To read earlier poems in this cyle, along with other works by Paddy, please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=paddy+webb


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