Ice Cream Days


The grandchildren wait –

old enough to accept

that a last breath is death

and yet…and yet.


The sun is hot.

Not just hot,

it’s Greek-beach hot:

Istanbul-in-August hot.


The children: (inhale) cartwheel.

(exhale) cling to each other and cry,

(inhale) ask quiet, careful questions,

(exhale) fly forwards, dive bomb backwards

and swim with strong, sure strokes

across the lough.


At the rented house, on the harbour,

the grown-ups come and go:

the baby wakes, the coffee pot’s filled up,

the frozen pizza’s cooked

and eaten cold.


And in the quiet room,

the children hold his hand,

or stand outside,

and send in memories of him,

that dance like dust motes

through sunlight.


Dying takes a while.

He makes us wait.

Gathered together (no school, no work – just family)

their grandfather (the weatherman)

nudges the sun up high into the sky,

to catch with crystal flecks,

the silver fish

and warm the waters where they play.


This is his final gift to them –

another ice cream day.



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