for Zachariah

Lying beside me on the mattress

on the floor, my nearly3grandson says,

Grandpa, whydocowshavebells?


1longword in 5rapidfirestaccatos.

Then with barely a grabbedbreath’spause

he answers, Causetheirhornsdon’twork!

It takes me 2heartskips to get it …

And then I laugh, trulyloudlylaugh at

the delightfulunexpected doubleentendre

from this dearestartless calfeyed Boy

of VeryLittleBrain. On my back bellowing

I kick my legs, cyclekick them high,

and he does the same, windmilling

those littlelimbs that must bear him yet

for a lifetime, a lifetime that will last,

pleaseGod, at least a½century beyond mine.

Windingdown, we give the mattress

1lastelbowing with our heels.


Then in the followingcalm he says, Yourturn,

Grandpa. I think … and cannot think …

Grandpa, yourturn! And at his insistence

I judge it’s not the joke but the jointjubilation

that matters. So, unable to do better,

I belabour the bovinetheme:

Why do cows get stuck in holes?

Is it anticipation or (oh goodgreatGod

have mercy on measinner!) adoration


that brightens his grandsunnyface?

Because they don’t have ladders!

It’s not funny. It’s not important.


It’s love. It’s legkicking laughter. It’s us2

unitedandundone for a briefblessedtime

in this lovelylonelyworld we’re travelling through.

Andrew Lansdown

Leave a Reply