I don’t believe in ghosts, but I take a sandwich up to one every day,
watch it stay uneaten. We moved Grandad into the attic. He lies,
refuses to wash, eat, take his pills. Grandad’s body is forgetting itself
with every unswallowed mouthful.

We hear his footsteps while we do things alive people do, we hear
the shuck-shucking of his slippers, wearing himself away with every step.
He tells the carer he only has three grandchildren. We silently bet
on which of us he’d got rid of and who’d be next in line.

We listen to the ceiling. He’s sitting in the armchair under the skylight.
He waits. We all wait. The bathroom is bone-dry with the lack of Grandad.
We hope for the sound of running water, as if Grandad might wash off
Grandad and quicken the whole damn process of dying. Grandad
draining out. Grandad in the pipes.

I walk to escape his stale-scented non-being. I pass a pool of crocuses
the same diameter as the bare tree above, as if the tree had dropped
its purple in favour of winter clouds, which are reflected in the squares
of windows. When back, I climb upstairs to check on Grandad.
I hope to open the door and find only sky.


From Magma 83




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