Melinda Lovell

(to Haakon at 64 and to Sebastian at 18 months, Cantal hamlet, S W France)

You are the first grandpa
for three generations
who has not been to war

Instead of preparing your grandson to fight
you will show him the array of cooking knives
that fit neatly in their wooden block.
‘That’s one for bread’ you say
and Sebastian, who understands everything,
‘and that one is the tomato knife.
It’s got a special edge for cutting tomatoes’

In time
you will show Sebastian
the pestle and mortar collection.
(One is too heavy for him to lift).
‘This one is for chopping parsley, and this one is for grinding sesame’

Then you will take him outdoors to roam in the potager,
where he will find strawberries under the leaves and eat them,
find mange tout and eat that,
shake potatoes in a bucket
and watch you twist off a plump courgette

He will walk back from the potager holding a bunch of young carrots
and you, the grandpa who never had to go to war,
after scrubbing off their earth,
will show him how to slice them diagonally

You will go together to collect eggs from the farmer’s mad wife.
You will both look at her scattered chickens
and she will say Sebastian is costaud and his skin blanche.
Then Sebastain will find out
by watching grandpa
that those chickens’ eggs have very yellow yolks
and he will learn
how to cook an omelette

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