Down the veranda steps, along the flint path,
past the dry sand beds is the Orange House,
where oranges have never been grown.
My cousins set a chair and three heat-light bulbs,
screwed to asbestos to make a tropical seat.
The plan: my grandfather, going blind and deaf,
will recover from winter; will relive his
Indian days in light and warmth, maybe smoke
a Camel or two. Whether it is the look,
like an electric chair, or its distance from
the manorial house, he doesn’t seem keen.
One morning, the warm seat vacant,
the Orangery glows, lit by atomic oranges.
“Now, he notices only my absence, the things I have not done: a thin layer of dust in the hallway, an unprepared meal in the pantry. I’ve started abandoning tasks just to see if he notices, the calculated neglect like a beam from a distant lighthouse.”