Crackers by Jenny Danes

My grandmother is very thin, so when we hug
we fold into each other like leaning
paper towers. She is soft like
cardigans. At Christmas we tried to pull our
crackers in a chain. Lizzie and I crossed

our arms naturally, clutched in readiness –
but with both grandparents nearing ninety
there was terrible confusion. Wrong hand, wrong
direction, broken links, abandoned
crackers still on the table, knocked glasses,

patience. After the snap, the swapping cardboard
cones, the rummage for jokes; Gran and Mum still
on the end of theirs. Gran tries with both hands,
struggles with the grip. As the tension strains
she winces, leans away from the spring. It goes off,

sends her rocking sideways from the force of it.
Mum catches her as her chair tips – as if
we must rein her in to her seat, mark the
chair legs with caution, fragile, as if we need
to stop her somehow breaking up, shooting off
out to space, fragments flying into orbit.


Jenny Danes grew up in Essex and now lives in Newcastle where she studies English Literature and German. In 2013 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize for poetry, and her work has appeared in magazines such as The Missing Slate, The Cadaverine and Ink Sweat & Tears.  She is currently one of the literature editors for Alliterati magazine, and is a member of the Writing Squad.