There you are on my screen, your face round and red and glowing.
I can see your fleshy cheeks, your extra chin.
Now you settle into your mother’s breast. I see your profile, your
pink ear, your welcome mat of thick black hair.
You are quiet, quiet, seen on my screen, seldom heard.
You arrived magically on the far side of the world in a land of short
dim days, days of rain and chill. In Australia, your grandfather –
this stranger grandfather – sweated and read dread warnings of
You are in the right place: your mother is your address. I sit in this
far country that will be your country, and I am not myself, not my
proper grandfathering self. My fingers have not touched your skin. My
eyes have not followed the rise and fall of your breathing. I haven’t
smelled you, haven’t heard you burp, seen you cry. I haven’t run a
soapy palm across your tummy.
Although I am a skilled and fearless nappy changer, I’ve never changed
you, made you fresh and clean and dry.
I should do these small intimate acts, then give you to your mum. She
will hold you and I will put my arm around her birth-swollen body;
I’ll rest my old cheek against her and I’ll feel again the newness of
flesh of my flesh of my flesh.
I am a pretender, Ruby. I await my time, our time.
I am not real.
When I see you I will run my finger beneath your chins and feel the
warmth of that soft cushion of flesh. I’ll rest you across my rocking
forearm, I’ll sing you my silly soft songs, I’ll feel your mass and
And you will make me real.