He’d snapped them all – his choice of verb, not mine
Queen Mum, Princesses Margaret…and Anne, stars
of chart and catwalk, the rich, the famous
and the bad. Now here he was, winding down,
in a modest studio close to us.

The natural choice for our task.
happy families snap for Grandpa.
The op had gone well: we were told he’d make
a full recovery, yet Grandpa was beset
by gloom, could not face the world, had turned
his chair to the wall.

We were asked to stay away, give him space, so,
having summoned, drilled, scrubbed our wayward brood,
we posed – awkwardly, the first and only time –
for this. An image with a large remit,
to tell him that he’s loved, that life is good,
that his son’s made it, that grandkids scrambled
on the cusp of adulthood.

Things were glossed over, touched up, edited out:
the scene was staged. Not all was rosy
but did it work? Grandpa’s chair did turn back round.
No visitors signs were packed away. He caged
his demons, rallied, even as reality
unravelled, soundless, at the edges of our frame.