The Grandfather by Manash Bhattacharjee

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To Steven O’ Brien

Grandfather Heaney dug deep
Into his country’s soil
Another man unlike him left home
To burrow through an alien forest
In search of enemies

The alien pastures were green
But the scent of blood heavy
In dogged, wet boots
Flanked by Rhine and Reich
The army pushed the Nazis
Yard by yard

As one grandfather harvested
The potatoes on time
Another braved enemy-floods
Reaping heads in Reichswald
Against the Führer’s pleasure

Sometimes you choose the gun
Instead of the spade
You leave the land in another’s man’s care
He digs and you fight
For the same air separating you

One day the man back from war
Drives his bus before a house smelling of fresh potatoes
And he smiles raising no eyebrow

Manash Bhattacharjee

6 June, 2014. New Delhi.

(Manash’s first collection of poems, Ghalib’s Tomb and other poems, was published recently by The London Magazine.)