Like clock-work, I know it’s time

to visit grandma for Christmas

Daddy makes all the plans

and we fly and fly

over the mountains and grasslands

of Africa

from Ethiopia to Nigeria

I love to sit next to daddy on the flight

because he lets me have all the chocs

When we land, I complain-

I can’t breathe!

It’s called humidity, daddy says

Mummy gives me bitter tablets

I hate them

It’s for the mosquitoes, she says

So, why can’t they have them? I cry

Another flight and a road trip where I sleep like the dead

Then…… Grandma!

She’s warm and soft and smells of

all my favourite foods

I forget my parents and follow her around

for the next 2 weeks

Grandma cooks on an open fire

in the backyard

It’s pure ecstasy to play around the fire with cousins I’ve never met

Even better when she puts all the food on one plate and tells us to dig in

Eight small hands dive in at the same time

and I join in -thinking it’s a race

Mummy frowns from our kitchen window

but let’s me be

After dinner, grandma starts singing and all my little cousins join in

as crickets chorus under the moonlit sky

I don’t understand the words

but the songs sink into my being

I always loved those Christmas holidays

-having all my meals under open skies

Even now, whenever I think of my grandma

I hear the faint humming in my bones

©Vivian Zems (Narrative Poetry)

Real Toads- Grandma’s Kitchen