Sundays at Grandma’s
Gran’s best friend Susan came every,
single Sunday. Whippet thin, I often
thought she’d disappear into the vacuum
of her own cheekbones,
she sucked so hard on those fags.
Each week we sat through
the drag of Sunday Mass, the malaise
of The Antiques Roadshow.
My grandparents, non-smokers,
never objected to these horrible clouds
infiltrating every soft furnishing
throughout their house.
She always sent me down the street
for her Benson & Hedges. I tried to hide
in the shed, dreaded being sent on these
errands. Tiny as a bird, her tongue sharp
as the ham slicer in the village shop
and I felt its full wrath if I returned
with the wrong change, which she popped
in her leather handbag, snapping shut
the metal clasp with the ferocity
of an alligator’s jaw. After a salad,
slaw and cold meat tea, the grown ups
settled down to the opening strains
of Songs Of Praise and Last of The Summer Wine.
My relief exhaled at the last cigarette
in the pack, until she pulled out
a spare box, peeled off the cellophane
with relish, like unravelling a
gift bow, the air dregs
unbearably stale, thick
as the stockinged legs of Nora Batty.
Lorraine Carey’s poems appear in Orbis, Prole, Gyroscope Review, The Waxed Lemon, Black Nore Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Atrium, The Blue Nib, The Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Birmingham among others. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows.