Time And Children

By Gabeba Baderoon

Every Sunday when I was young,
the whole family crowded into cars to visit
my aunt who lived as far away as banishment.

Led by my grandparents in their white Vauxhall,
after the last stretch of gravel track, barely
wide enough for a car and impassable
in heavy rain, we always arrived
in the narrow road in front of the house ready
for lunch and my aunt’s loud welcome.

And later, in that order of things
that has to do with Sundays,
and the way old men understand time
and children, my grandfather in his bowtie
and black felt hat would call the children
of the neighbourhood to his Vauxhall,
and they would crowd
into the back seat from one side
and lever onto one another’s laps
and shut the heavy door with a bang.

The visiting children would stand at the kerb
and watch him drive to the end
of the road and manoevre the car around.
Slowly my grandfather would pull up again
at my aunt’s house, and a fan of children,
would spill out of the back seat.

All my life I have remembered
the order of such Sunday afternoons.
Even now, recalling
the moment they drove away from us,
my head rears back
at the return of something.
In our watching and waiting
was the beginning of recognition and loss,
of apprehending something
we didn’t even know we had.

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