THE WHALE FILM OR THE EYE OPERATION
There was once a Friday and I was once a child
I was given the choice between the film about whales and the eye operation
Of my grandfather, I chose the whale film and my grandfather lived on
After being discharged from hospital, he was as voracious and satyric as ever
He wore an eye patch for a while, it was a success.
The rugged fisher women thought the eye patch made him look sophisticated
The sophisticated stables ladies thought the eye patch made him look rugged
My grandmother and the doctor said the eye patch was no longer needed
And I found a Roman coin in the garden and said to my grandparents,
‘Now I can take care of myself, ha! I’m going to buy a house in Ireland.
Don’t stop me. I’m taking the dog and the Bali tapestry, even if
It will be red-tape hell; what with their irrational fear of rabies and carpet beetle . . . ’
They let me leave, but the coin was worthless
So I had to go back
My grandmother laughed at me and my grandfather asked,
‘Do you want mocha ice cream or two pounds of cherries?’
He no longer wore an eye patch, his polo shirt was too white and his forehead too marbled
It was Saturday and they let me draw until midnight.
I drew grizzly bears and bolts of lightning
It was probably the grizzlies’ fault
That the houses were on fire
My grandmother dropped a plaice in the kitchen
And my grandfather said, ‘Every Saturday, that cow drops a plaice in the kitchen!!’
I was very unhappy with my drawing
But had already become too vain to tear up my work
The dog dreamed he was a clairvoyant whale
Or a stuttering emperor, or neither of the two
He lay shivering in an undersized cage in an underheated border post
With a coin on his stomach, a fake Roman one.