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Is it legitimate to exorcise nightmares by writing about them, in particular by writing poetry about them? My childish nightmares were often true, like this one about my grandmother.

IN 1947

In 1947

Granny came

To stay with us

To die.

My little old granny

Parchment grey skin,

All skin and bones

Who’d nursed me

Through measles, mumps and whooping cough 

And the chicken pox and ringworm.

But I missed scarlet fever

And the impetigo.

Dad was recently back

From the war.

Having gran in his ‘getting used to civvy life’ house

Must have been hard for him.

It was hard for me,

Getting used to having a dad

And getting used to a poorly gran.

She’d always

Fed me lunch

When mam was away at work.

And now

She was downstairs

In our house,

In our front room

In bed, all skin and bones

Come to die.

No, she didn’t want hospital,

Nor any operations,

And not that radium thingy,

Just the pills

That helped to make her

Feel better.

She knew what was wrong

And what was going to happen.

She was sick.

Always being sick.

Couldn’t keep anything down

And blamed mam’s cooking.

But a boiled egg would be nice.

It was sad and I was scared,

So I stole her an egg

That mam boiled.

I’d watched the captive hen

In its cage

Lay this egg

So I stole it for gran.

Felt it still warm from the hen

In my hand.

It was boiled.

Gran ate it

And was sick.

It was cancer,

But in those days

No one dared say the word

In case of bad luck.

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