David Punter

Poem for my Grand-daughter


 And so I wonder as I watch you

          playing with onions

                    passing them from one wicker bowl


to another, intent and concentrated

          flinging stripped outer skins

                   onto the floor in perfect confidence


that they will be picked up by somebody else;

          or silently mouthing the words

                   of new songs and rhymes


gradually shaping their meaning

      (yesterday I turned on the car CD player

              expecting ‘Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad’,


a Clash classic, and getting a surprise blast of

       ‘Old Macdonald has a Farm’)

              or finding strange joy in stamping


on the flagged kitchen floor, resonating

        with the limits of your small body

               and extending it ceaselessly outwards


achieving increasing mastery of your world;

       or your wary appreciation of that other world,

               a world of two cats, sometimes sleeping


sometimes getting dangerously close - and so

       what do I wonder? I have forgotten

              what I wonder, I am lost instead


inside your adventure-hungry view,

       your this and that, your sharp discrimination,

                your ceaseless lessons of the self -


what I had really forgotten is that the key is not

      this endless capacity for learning,

                it is the desire, the avidity


always to know more than you did, on any

        Thursday afternoon, more than you did

                that vivid half-forgotten week before.


This poem is, obviously, about my grand-daughter. It picks up from something her mother, my daughter-in-law, recently said when explaining how difficult it was to continue working with a two-year-old around: 'Some of the time', she said 'I'm in my world; but most of the time I'm in hers'.

Poem for my Grand-daughter