Born in England
Reads the tat slapped on his skull
as if the proud shine of his baldness
and his dislike of the Arabic English accent
wasn’t enough to read into.
He sips a pint and recalls a night
post cup tie, Rotherham win
where after a scrap, he locked
a black lad in the pub cellar.
They all laugh fat bellied laughs
the sound, hanging there.
They down their pints, the round
slammed on the table; the knocking
like fists on a wooden cellar door.
And it starts here behind the shed
dark brown-red with rot, gypsy Jasmine
from next door dropping her knickers
her top speckled with dirt from playing;
she takes my hand, thumb in my palm
fingers lapping the ridge of my knuckles.
Then between the warmth of her legs
she guides my hand, buries it, the heat
of the summer holiday beating our necks
as we hide behind the shed; her brother
shouting out her name, Jasmine leaving
as he calls; me wondering what’s for tea.
When they told me Granddad was getting sick,
said his chest would need to be opened, cut
because the heart he had just wouldn’t tick
and the clock inside him was loose a nut,
I thought he’d be gone for sure, not come back
but I knew he wouldn’t give up, he’d try
if there’s one thing you could count on it’s that.
Now every time when Granddad comes on by
you can hear it in his step, like a click
of heels, of a cog, falling into place
his robot heart clanking as he skips, flits
dancing with Grandma in the open space
of living room floor. His heart is strong, beats
to a new rhythm, to his woman, her feet.