Sojourner, as my Father was

Psalm 39 v.12

“My God, but he was beautiful, that man”.
Her face snaps shut, eyes quieten and return
to china, damask and decorum where
we gently shredded relatives and aired
the cupboards where our greying family leaves
the things it thinks are skeletons. And now
a shadow grows between us, something long
since buried, but not deep enough. I read
`No Trespass’ signs, look down, stir tea and see
the shadow sharpen when it should have gone.

Beautiful? Her word, not mine. Surprising too –
the family always saw him as a man
who went a glass too far, who drifted, died
outside the smothering cover of the clan
and worst of all, left nothing. Nothing turned
her face away just now, nothing touched us and
it hurt like nothing else I know. We see
him differently, feel different guilts and then
ache separate ways. No, beautiful would be
the last word that I’d use, But then again –

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