My Grandparents’ Neighbours

They lived in an urban terrace,
side by side,
with a stamp-sized front garden
and somewhat larger one
at the back,
complete with washing line
from fence to fence,
a coal bunker
and a tool shed.

It took years to grow
their individuality
with roses. sweet-scented stock and peonies.

They called each other by their family names,
civilised and polite;
they offered sympathy
and a bowl of sugar,
when needed.

In all those years,
I can’t remember them ever
venturing inside each others’ houses.

Kim M. Russell, 13th March 2019


My response to Poets United Midweek Motif: Neighbours

Sumana is our host this week, wondering how well connected people are with those close by – the people in their neighbourhood. She tells us about a a Spanish town that granted cats and dogs rights as ‘non-human neighbours’, and a neighbour of her own – a date-palm tree, which she says invited birds and even humans during winter mostly for its sugary juice until one day when there was much hacking and chopping, and it vanished.

Sumana asks us to write neighbour poems and she has inspired us with quotations from W.H. Auden’s, ‘As I Walked Out One Evening’ and from Lawrence Stern, as well as a haiku by Matsuo Basho and poems from Ogden Nash, Charles Tomlinson and Charles Bukowski.

27 thoughts on “My Grandparents’ Neighbours

  1. Sometimes the very best neighbors are the ones who don’t venture into each other’s homes. Your poem has a warm, homey feeling to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a rare thing for neighbours to respect each other’s privacy and at the same time offer love and support ❤️ Lovely write, Kim! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My neighbors from up North are amazed how we don’t go in and out of each other’s houses and it took them awhile to adjust. They don’t understand how southerners are so friendly and yet, so distant. I explained to her it was about boundaries. She still did not understand the concept. In our neighborhood, we help each other out but we don’t go in each other’s houses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the photo! This takes me back to childhood at my grandma’s house, a little wartime cottage in Kelowna……..she and her neighbours addressed each other formally by Mrs. This and Mrs. That through all the years of knowing each other, some as close friends of twenty years or more. It was the era of afternoon tea parties, where the ladies came in hats and gloves and took tea in pretty teacups and saucers. When my grandma mentioned her husband to the ladies, she referred to him as Mr. Marr. Smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved living with my grandparents, observing the adults’ lives and relationships, helping in the kitchen and the garden. Later, as a teenager, I did rebel against their formality, but I loved it.


  5. “They called each other by their family names,
    civilised and polite;
    they offered sympathy
    and a bowl of sugar,
    when needed.”…..Best kind of neighborhood. I also live in somewhat similar kind of place. But I really fume and seethe and feel helpless when I hear a husband using abusive words towards wife or other inmates. However there’s only one such family and unfortunately is my next door neighbor. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Neighbours now live next door to each other for 20 years and have never spoken to each other. It’s a need for privacy . We all live on top of each other in the cities. I straddle both worlds…city and country. I like the anonymity of the city.The best neighbours are in the country….just the creetchas:).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Viv. We have new neighbours; they’re doing a lot of work on the house and haven’t moved in yet. All I know about them after three months is that they make a hell of a lot of noise!

      Liked by 1 person

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