Read This and Be Smarter - A Love Letter To My Grandparents

This series by young writers is curated by Western Australian poet, Anthea Yang. 

A Love Letter To My Grandparents by Anastasia Julien-Martial

My grandpère pushes my grandmère in front of him in the heavy train station,
A palm on the small of her back,
A whisper of love saying:

I will keep you safe
Even though we fought of the shopping list this morning
I will tuck you into me and see that you are steady

My grandpère will not admit that he loves her more than he has ever loved anyone
But on the days she can not get out of bed
He cries
When she goes on a seven day cruise without him
He has nightmares every night
He loves her
Begs her to love him back because he believes she doesn’t sometimes

My grandpère goes to church every Sunday
Puts on a suit and knows that he will have to wait at least ten minutes for my grandmère before she is ready
He still beeps the horn impatiently though
Instead of just waiting for her indoors
I’ll never understand

My grandpère tells me that the cure for a sore throat is whiskey, lemon and honey
Makes it for me the cold has seeped into my bones and settled deep in my chest
He only wishes for me to breathe steady again
Presses the back of his hand to my forehead and says:
Un ‘tit movement
Which literally means a little movement
And not so literally means fever
Coming slowly
Gently it will be here

My grandmère sighs with the weight of fifty years of marriage
As if it’s too long
Too much
As if she’d rather not do it anymore
But she will never leave him

She adds hot water and stirs gently
While my grandpère puts the whiskey back at the bar

I wonder if he knows:
That she put the hot water in
That she loves him

I have often thought that love sometimes buries itself and you can’t dig it out anymore
Lost in the shopping list quarrels
And then I look for my grandparents
And his hand is still there
Steady on the small of her back
And there’s a chance they found the shovel

Bio: Anastasia Julien-Martial is a queer and non-binary spoken word poet based on Whadjuk Noongar Booja. They have three zines available for purchase on Etsy under the collective bridget appreciation society; oh, I wouldn’t expect us to find our place here (where we are meant to), How To Grow A Garden Of Flowers and The Car Rattled My Skin Home.  They also have a spoken word EP up on bandcamp ‘sorry I didn’t rsvp’. Anastasia enjoys film photography and most recently photographed Nika Mo for her latest EP release ‘November’. 

The State Library of Western Australia promotes reading for all ages. Reading really does make you smarter, reduces stress and can even prolong your life. To this end the ‘Read this and be Smarter’ project kicked off on 2 September. Every day, Monday to Friday the Library will provide a link through our Facebook and Twitter feeds to a great piece of writing. The content will be provided by a range of quality publications including Granta, Westerly, Ted, NextDraft and a special series on young writers curated by a talented young Western Australian poet, Anthea Yang.

Last updated on: 13 Sep 2019