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16 January 2016updated 27 Jul 2021 7:10am

“Fascinating”: A new poem by Jeremy Robson

"They were my dad’s I tell him, recalling / how my father loved to savour a cigar after / a meal."

By Jeremy Robson

Our young grandson Sam says he’s long

been fascinated by the silver box on the

coffee table in our living room, and the

flaking cigars within. “Fascinating” he

exclaims repeatedly, as he lifts one up,

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pretends to hold it to his lips.

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They were my dad’s I tell him, recalling

how my father loved to savour a cigar after

a meal, its rich aroma scenting the room.

But they are fragile now, I add, unsmokable,

which only makes him wonder why we’ve kept

them all this time. I often wonder too.

I can’t explain that when I go to clear them out

something seems to tug at my sleeve from afar,

making me want to leave them as they are.

Instead I tell him they are a kind of memento,

confess, since he persists, that when a kid I secretly

tried a forbidden one, turned pale green, and hid.

“Fascinating” he says, closing the lid.

Jeremy Robson’s latest collection is Blues in the Park (Smokestack Books).

This article appears in the 13 Jan 2016 issue of the New Statesman, David Bowie