À trois ans et un peu

Elle est têtue, ma fille

Elle veut sa propre volonté

À chaque but et coin de rue

Et dans le soi-disant ‘super’ marché

Indépendante, cette jeune enfant

Qui casse le front-uni de nuit

En refusant de brosser les dents

Porter son pyjama, dormir?

C’est quoi ça, maman?

Que tu viens de me dire?

Insensible au désespoir de ses parents

Du jour en jour, elle s’amuse

Changer son avis de nourriture

Ce qu’elle va manger et sans pensée

Pour ses vielles âmes qui cuisinaient

Nourrir ses larmes grosses, de gosse

Exagérées l’heure confronté avec

Devant son plat d’entrée de

Végétaux croquants et sans gratin,

Les pâtes sans ni sauce, ni rosmarin

Les frîtes même, sauf le mayonnaise

Pas de cassoulet, pas d’hollandaise

Elle veut le monde à sa façon

Du poisson, un oeuf, du saucisson?

Et non, mais non!  J’en veux pas, maman!

Les céréales, chaque matin, surtout

Quand on a oublié d’achéter du lait frais

Réemplir le frigo, Dimanche?  Et ouais!

C’est qu’elle veut nous tous faire craquer

J’en suis convaincu.  Ses absolues et chaque refus

Nous rendant tous debout, dès le début.

A l’admirer, cette jeune merveille

L’auteur de notre vie en famille entière.

Translation:

At three and a bit

 

She is headstrong, my girl

She wants her own way

At each goal and bend in the road

And in the so-called ‘super’ market

Independent, this young child

Who breaks through our united front each night

By refusing to brush her teeth

Wear her pyjamas, go to sleep?

What is that, mummy?

That you just said to me?

Deaf to the despair of her parents

From day to day she amuses herself

Changing her mind about the food

That she is prepared to eat, and without a thought

For the poor old souls who cooked

To feed the huge tears of a spoilt brat

Histrionics at the point she is face to face with

Her plate of appetisers, some

Crunchy veg without cheese sauce

Pasta with neither sauce nor seasoning

No sausage and bean casserole, no hollandaise sauce

Even French fries, minus the mayo

She wants the world done her own way

Some fish, an egg, some sausage?

And no, but no!  I don’t want any, mum!

Just cereal, every morning, especially

When we have forgotten to buy fresh milk

Refill the fridge, on a Sunday?  Hell, yeah!

She wants us all to lose our minds

I am convinced she does.  Her harsh rules and each refusal

Make us stand and stare, since the beginning

To admire her, this young miracle

The artistic director of our entire family life.

We’ll Discuss it Over Dinner

I talked to avoid confrontation
Though practic’ly mute as a child
Postponed arguments with conversation
Changing subjects when tempers weren’t mild

That is how I once took up the trumpet
Said the first thing that entered my brain
When the atmosphere eating was honed to a point
As the adults were driving me sane

When I stepped in to cut off their fuses
Much the same as diffusing a bomb
There was never the time for new ruses
As absurd comic timing ploughed on

By expressing an int’rest in something
At a tangent from what came before
They were forced by convention of dining
To allow me to take to the floor

Over dinner I failed to digest much
Of the victuals that cooled on my fork
In my vigilant state I arrested debate
With diversions of plausible pork

Ten – Thirty

Falling in love with the painting we hung
Over my piano – a dark and rainy night
A bridge of cars and glowing lights
Artfully smudged to please
A scene of childhood dreams – when I
Still believed good would come of arguments,
When all of life was a journey
I’d gaze at the rain on the glass, reflected
In the sepia and orange flashes of each lamp
As we crawled through the traffic jams
On balding tyres in the darkening wet
Our parents itching to speed through red lights
In such a hurry to drive each other to distraction.
Crossing the river to the South Bank for
Another sycophantic symphony. Performance Art.
Adults in their finery who’d brought their
Best feet to put themselves forward
And left their manners at home in their holey jeans.
The gloom of this familiar view is comforting.
I can remember the Christmas at my Grandparents’ flat
When my Grandpa threw a tantrum ‘cos the
Tree trimming was taking too long.
My sister was inconsolable and cried for an hour
For our ever-distant mother, absent again
And I helped Grandma in the kitchen until
The storm clouds blew over and all
Was cherubic plaster smiles and tinsel twice over.
The picture knew how I felt.
The picture was the view from the bridge
Another bridge, in a different city
But no matter; we understood each other.