Grandma and the Sea
One winter, my grandma wasn’t very well
and I ended up staying with her for Christmas.
Just me and Grandma.
I knew she wouldn’t be here much longer.
Her back crackled with pain
and her thoughts had loosened like the strands of
wool in a well-worn scarf.
Christmas Day came and it was a cold day.
iron-toothed sort of day.
We were pretty miserable.
Now, my grandma lived by the sea
but she couldn’t get to the beach any more.
And I can’t remember if it was me or Grandma
who cooked it up,
but we agreed I should go for a swim.
We would give this cold grey Christmas Day
a run for its money.
So, I made my way to beach,
and I stamped on into the water.
And by heck it was cold.
A huge, wild cold
that hit me like a bus.
The water tumbled and roared,
and anger flew round me:
that my grandma might not live much more,
that she now found her days
just as fast,
the crash of that mad grey sea
walloped me to gladness,
for her kindness and quickness,
for her fierceness,
for all the time we’d had.
And I came home and told my grandma
I’d done it,
I’d swum in that stupidly cold water
and she grinned,
her cheeks beaming pink with mine.
And now my grandma
isn’t here anymore.
And it’s sad.
But when I’m near a cold sea
I make sure to think of her.
I think about the glitter and sting of salt water.
And I swim in it.
© Kate Wakeling, from Cloud Soup, The Emma Press, 2021