My grandfather kept his 22
in the boot of his classic green Ford.
She had fins and fat tyres and those
ornamental seatbelts. I clung
to the doors, full of fearful joy.
Behind the whitewashed screen door
of my grandfather’s house, murder in the
dark. All over red rover, arm your
selves for cowboys and Indians, these
are the games that children play.
Gardens are simple and their wars
require no skins, no maps or mirrors.
Battlelines were drawn against
the slugs who slid amongst the
sweet peas and the snails who loved all
the plump pumpkins in a row.
Skirmishes with sparrows and flags
waving, as the scarecrow unfurled his
banners. My grandfather’s fleshy
feathered chickens roosted in
the straw, behind their heart shaped wire.
And always the canaries sang;
it's true, my grandfather said,
that the male has the sweeter song.
I think that the garden and
that 22 must have been a comfort;
they were silent, thoughtless and dumb.
My grandfather would pull that old
green Ford into the carpeted
garage, through the red bottlebrush flowers.