As a new grandfather, I’ve been riffling through the poetic jukebox of my memory trying to find a poem that embodies this profound visceral love I feel for this squiggling, big-headed creature I’ve seen in videos and while facetiming.
No luck. I can only recall poems about children, like Linda Pastan’s minor masterpiece “To a Daughter Leaving Home”:
When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
for your life, screaming
the hair flapping
behind you like a
And Peter Meinke’s “E-Mail from Tokyo,” which begins with this epigram from Philip Larkin:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
And ends with these two stanzas:
I know what memory and poetry need: storm moon
dolphin eye strings of images strung like those kites
across a summer sky years ago the wind snapping
letters toward the sun Kiss me Dear one Stay safe Write soon
but in the end we can only cry your names sending
them skyward fragile and flammable affirming that
you’re ours (poor babies): Perrie Peter Gretchen and at
last thanking you for tomorrow’s letter Timothy
Since I couldn’t recall a grandchild poem from my memory, I turned to the internet and discovered, not surprisingly, grandchildren galore have been celebrated in verse, most of it along the lines of this:
I bought two new books for you today my sweet boy.
The Wizard of Oz and The Jungle Book should bring joy.
I’m very proud of how wonderfully you read.
As an English scholar, I know you will succeed.
So, unfortunately, I must rely on my own threadbare wit to try to express this feeling, which, of course, lends itself to cliché because it “wells up” and “warms” and “heartens.”
I’ve seen other grandparents in its throes, flashing photos, and found their enchantment genetically understandable, if a tad bit too precious, but here I am experiencing that very rapture, a love I’m incapable of embodying in images or syllables, in iambs or trochees.
All I can say is it’s really something.