Tears of Things

how I desired, / beyond all reason, those unreachable sweets

Photo of poet Susan Musgrave

My grandfather spoke Latin at the breakfast table
over his All-Bran and two stewed prunes, read
Paris Match in the loo, referred to his many
grandchildren as little cannon fodder. What else

do I remember of my childhood summers? Raspberry
canes, sweet peas the length of the garden fence,
the English oaks my grandfather had planted
from the acorns he brought with him when he emigrated
after the First World War. Learning to sew, painstakingly,
play tennis, desperately, at Jericho Beach, the air sauced
with heat, the fierce walk home, uphill all the way,
to Trimble and Thirteenth. Shelling peas on the back porch,
the satisfying ping as each pea bounced
off the sides of the stainless-steel bowl. The potatoes
my grandfather planted in the boulevard, the humbugs
he kept in a jar on the mantle, above the rows of Penguin
Classics with their intelligent orange spines; how I desired,
beyond all reason, those unreachable sweets and how
my grandfather, possessed of the ability to read my mind,
offered me one every evening, after supper.

Susan Musgrave
Susan Musgrave is a writer who lives on Haida Gwaii and teaches at the University of British Columbia’s School of Creative Writing. Her new book of poetry, Exculpatory Lilies, will be published in September 2022.

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