Nan and Granddad's
Corned beef. Silverskin onion juice
sluiced from the jar onto mash.
The rhubarb boiled brown to mush
under crumble, a curl of ice cream.
Upstairs? No-one really knew.
I whispered between them in bed
the night my brother was born,
where stories were spun against sleep.
The garden tilted up to mystery
and things beginning: greenhouse,
the shed, not a trace of the nails
he'd think he'd stolen from work.
And the black pond never let on
it had taken the goldfishes' tongues,
dumb oracles who rose to tell
but took down their pills and forgot again.
There's Mum, turned six, tipping
that bottle of dandelion and burdock
– it should have been somewhere safer,
his unlabelled homemade vinegar.
This poem is from Ben's forthcoming pamphlet, Judder Men, which will be published by The Poetry Business on 1st April 2021.