They lived in the house one north of our grandfather
there never was a grandmother
she died before she was
giving birth to our favourite uncle.
Without a nana or grandma
it was always just Grandad’s place
and the neighbours – The Bells – for decades.
A nearly suburb. No railway cottages or rentals.
Bay villas and big yards. No second stories or serving staff
tennis at the public courts.
People stayed then, putting down roots
transplanted only by death.
Merle, short for Merlin perhaps
children never pondered. To us he was Mr Bell.
Sociology as ancestor. Our parents spoke his given name
Mrs Bell was only ever that
belonging to a now extinct group
women severed from their first name by marriage.
Grandad was proud to live alongside an educated man – a teacher
after the war
the Korean conflict brought prosperity.
A big town grew to a small city
and the neighbour to principal of a brand new junior high.
The new school surfed the wave of baby boom fecundity
respect and enrolments grew
the principal became president of the local racing club
and chance to meet royalty and prime ministers.
New Zealand didn’t smoke or inhale in the swinging 60’s
the 50’s passed into the 70’s and Grandad from this world.
Clear sky lightning. An arrest
president of the racing club for theft of takings.
Time lapse crimes
trust didn’t really know – perhaps from the very beginning.
Plea bargain denies schadenfreude of courtroom stocks
swaps sins for silence
I giggled like the schoolboy I was
at a teacher apprehended for misbehaviour.
Now I wonder
how did he feel
at PTA nights
at parent teacher evenings
at last warning summits.
And prize giving
handing out awards for application, diligence, and integrity.
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