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I used to be a dancer
during World War 1
your paternal grandmother said

as she sat next to you
on the seat in her
back garden in London

and your grandfather
would come and watch
with his army friends

and afterwards
he’d come
to the stage door

with flowers or chocolates
or just stand there
with that awestruck look

on his face
and she looked
at the flowers

that your grandfather grew
along both sides
of the garden

and she smiled and said
Look at him now
sits in the same room

and says nothing
or moans about the bills
or how the country is run

or the noise of the traffic
by the front gate
and you sat there

on the seat
in the back garden
in your new suit

and with your hair
cropped short
and that fifteen year old

I’m bored as hell look
on your face and you said
Why did you give up dancing

you must have been good at it?
and as you looked
at your grandmother

with her white frizzy hair
and stocky build
you couldn’t imagine her

as a dancer on a stage
with men gawping at her
especially not your soft spoken

quiet grandfather
who sat in his armchair
by the fireside

in a silent mood
occasionally reading a book
or giving that

I’ve seen too much
of mankind’s foolery
kind of look

and your grandmother said
Well after we got married
I fell for your uncle Fred

and beside I wasn’t that good
a dancer and your
grandfather didn’t want

a wife of his
to be peered at
or have her legs

gawked at
by other men
and then she was silent

and watched
a white butterfly
go by

fluttering its wings
she said softly

getting up
from the seat
and doing a small

Can Can dance
the shows not over
until the fat lady sings.

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boy, grandmother, dancer, 1963

I am an artist and poet, short story writer, dramatist, digital artist and photographer. I live in Sussex with my wife and four of my eight children. I am a grandfather of eight grandchildren.

My favourite artist are: Picasso, Warhol, Rothko, Klee, Van Gogh, Degas etc.

I am 64 years old and love the arts.

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  • sandra .
    sandra .about 2 years ago

    Gran can can…still!
    I really felt this one deeply Terry.
    Beautifully explored
    Sandra x

  • Thank you, Sandra. Gran passed away in 1975. What a lady she was.

    – Terry Collett

  • sandra .
    sandra .about 2 years ago

    A fabulous (and now moreso poem that is based on real life)…sounds like a special lady indeed
    (so, were you the 15 year old?) :)
    S x

  • Indeed. I have a photo of my grand & me.

    – Terry Collett

  • Arco Iris  R
    Arco Iris Rabout 2 years ago

    A wonderful story of your grandparents told with love and nostalgia. I would love the stories my grandmothers would tell me, and how I miss them. So she still can can dance. Love this one.

  • Thank you, Iris.

    – Terry Collett

  • Charmiene Maxwell-batten
    Charmiene Maxw...about 2 years ago

    beautifully written!!

  • Thank you, Charmiene.

    – Terry Collett

  • lynn carter
    lynn carterabout 2 years ago

    Beautiful verse xx

  • Thank you, Lynn.

    – Terry Collett

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