My 102 year old grandmother



Selected poems




My 102 year old grandmother
Is she 2 or 102?
She can be either
My grandmother
Sometimes she looks at me in silence with wide naïve eyes
Other times pearls of wisdom seep from her heart 

  •         Always put yourself first my beloved Isabella
  •         Forgive and forget my sweetheart Isabella
  •         Chocolate is your enemy. A good salad is your friend my precious Isabella
  •         Don't do unto others what you don't want done to you my cherished Isabella
  •         The early bird always catches the worm my brave Isabella

I don't want to part company as I hold her warm hand
She understands me
She completes me
Now that my mother her daughter has left us behind.

It is summer
We are sitting side by side on a wooden seat
Out in the family courtyard
Older than time itself
Sunset serenely colours the skies
Cicadas sing their tunes
The church bells welcome the town into the evening service
My cousins will be expecting my family and I for our last supper
Before we fly back to Melbourne.

It's been a glorious holiday
Packed with pleasurable moments sunbathing by the seaside
Shopping and feasting
But the most incredible experience has been with my grandmother.
Sitting on the bench I want her to look away first but she doesn't
We can feel my mother, her daughter up above
We sit still staring at each other
Her eyes become my eyes
Become my mother's eyes
I am my grandmother
And my mother
And starting this summer never again to be just me

— Isabella Fels



Letter to Granny. 1910


'Thank you very much for sending me that nice silver nib box for my birthday present.'

I really liked the nice silver nib box
And I suppose that Aunt Lassie did too.
When I read my letter years on
I wondered about the nibs
I loved writing letters
And the nibs scratched across the page.
My writing was neat, and letters upright.

When you find old letters,
The memory gets a real shake-up,
I can see father and Peter with Ben
In the sulky gone to find the dead lambs
It was a cold April wind, a birthday wind.

Now I understand people don't write letters,
And nibs hide in antique shops,
Alongside my old typewriter.

You really hope their nibmanship hasn't died.

— Peter Gebhardt


Isabella FelsIsabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, The Big Issue and The Record.

Peter GebhardtPeter Gebhardt is a retired school principal and judge. His most recent book is Black and White Onyx: New and Selected Poems 1988–2011.

Topic tags: Isabella Fels, Peter Gebhardt, poetry



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Existing comments

Thank you both for such beautiful poems to start my day. Isabella you made tears fall. Your gift to me, a grandmother, is the promise that my precious grandchildren can hold me in their futures too. I never miss reading your work. It is precious. Peter, I also loved writing letters and really miss it, even though I email and fill other people's inboxes. I have not come across your work before, but I will hunt for it.
Pauline Small | 16 August 2016

Isabella your grandmother is my mother and it also brought tears to shine on this sunny morning that you "got it" for us all. And Peter my grandfather had a grand penmanship and I keep copies of that beautiful penmanship.
Frances | 16 August 2016

What a beautiful and rich poem, Isabella. I will read it again and again. I hadn t read anything so good in a long time, reallygreat. You are a dwell of sensitivity and masters poetry. Thank you so much, Isabella ?
aurelio gutierrez cid | 21 August 2016


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