My grandmother lived during most of my childhood in East Sussex, southern England. We often visited her for a few days in her old cottage (which, sadly, is no longer standing); and in this poem I recall one of the memories I have of her house.
On the north side of Granny’s house
A timbered door was always shut,
Wrought iron latch dropped neatly in its heavy catch.
The silent message was loudly eloquent:
Do not enter. But we had to know
Its mysteries, the marvels beyond that threshold.
So when her back was turned
We crept along the polished passageway
Treading softly as we could, barefoot,
Then two stone steps down
To the icy dimness of quarry tiles
And piles and banks and ranks
Of jellies and jams, hams and jars of Seville marmalade
All tightly sealed with wax, perhaps
Beside a loaf of new-baked bread or dome of cheese—
Don’t let the mice in please—
All just barely visible in fitful light
That filtered through the wire-mesh fly-screen
Over a granite slab
Where, sometimes, in spite of Granny’s
Industrious housewifery, tidy domesticity,
The summer rain came slanting in.
© Lizzie Ballagher