Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2008, vol 6 no 4


grandmother, grandmother
John W. Sexton


Granny Curtin, my maternal grandmother, lived with my granda on a farm in Brosna, in County Kerry. We'd travel over the sea from England to visit every summer, and then, as the summer waned, we'd journey back to the autumn rains of London. On the night she died my kid brother Gerard ran into my parents' room because there was an old woman standing beside his bed. Instantly, my mother knew that the old woman was her own mother, come to say goodbye. This very same moment I had awoken to Gerard's voice coming from my parents' room; awoken, as it happens, from a dream of my granny walking back to Ireland beneath the sea, clouds of sea-mud rising from her footfalls. That same day my granda told his grieving family he'd be leaving as well, and they told him to shush and not to be foolish. Later the next morning granda suffered a massive heart attack and fell in the yard. We needed no doctor to tell us he'd died of a broken heart. So granda and granny Curtin died and were buried side by side the very same week.

asleep my head cut by stars I hold tight her grey hair skywards

Granny Sexton, my paternal grandmother, lived on a farm in Templeglantine, in County Limerick. Grandad Sexton was a handsome, no-nonsense man who had spent years in New York as a cop before returning home to Ireland. He farmed the land and kept cattle and walked on hard nails. I remember him as being authoritative and gruff. By all accounts granny Sexton was the proverbial saint, always saying her prayers. Apparently, when I was a young boy I would sit beside her keeping her company, and we would pray for the safety of the whole world; but I have no memory of this. The only clear memory I have is of her sitting up in her hospital bed with a black rosary in her hands. Her hair was as white as her nightdress, and an oblong of sunlight was thrown over her bed like an extra sheet.

thrush song fills the window her papery skin throws light at the sun


John W. Sexton lives in Ireland. His haiku, tanka and haibun have appeared in Ginyu, Modern Haiku, Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun, CHO, The Heron’s Nest, The 58th Basho Festival Haiku Anthology, The Mainichi Daily News, The Illustrated Ape and also in translation in the Irish language publications Feasta and . His first collection of haiku, Shadows Bloom / Scáthanna Faoi Bhláth, with translations into Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock, was recently published by Doghouse. His children’s novels The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed are published by The O’Brien Press.