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13 Jul 2022

Laura
Varnam

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Full Moon

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Jul 28th

The Little Girl and
the Laughing Cavalier

Jun 29th

After Frans Hals’ Laughing Cavalier

 

i.m. NV

               In my grandmother’s house

               under my grandmother’s bed–

               Wait. Let’s not look yet, Dad.

               It’s not like he’s going anywhere.


               With a bounce and a clap,

               A drawing – here! – paper flaps.

               How do you think of that, Dad?

               But when grandmother’s cracks


               surface unvarnished, the question

               slips back. How do you think

               of that? The tremor, shaking

               her Parkinson’s by the hand.


               On my grandmother’s wall,

               chuffed with his ruff

               and his wide-boy moustache–

               No, stick to grandmother’s hip,


               his suspicions will pass. Claptrap,

               that fact: eyes sticking like glue,

               the cavalier fixated on you? (Bung him

               under the bed, quick sticks, before


               grandmother sees and clicks).

               It’s not the cavalier under the bed,

               that gives me the jitters, Dad.

               The black sash, the upturned hat.


               The rapier crooked in his elbow–

               We needed his swagger for what

               was to come in my grandmother’s

               house, in my grandmother’s head.

Behind the poem...

My poem is inspired by Frans Hals’ famous Laughing Cavalier. A print of this painting used to hang in the guest bedroom at my grandmother’s house. I was frightened by the Cavalier’s expression when I was a child – I would hide him under the bed. But as this poem reveals, my appreciation of Hals’ painting once I was an adult helped me think through my grandmother’s experience of Parkinson’s Disease.