Left out in the rain too long
the words on the pages
of the long book of her life
turn soggy:
thirty years ago seeps into last week,
yesterday leaks into childhood.

When I tell her her husband
of sixty seven years has died,
tears escape habitually stoical eyes.
“I need my father,” she says,
he lost to her at eleven.
The ink of meaning slips.
Right feeling attends
but events coalesce,
all griefs one, and mighty.
On a brisk, sun flooded day
we make a bid for the normal,
tricking the coded door.
Leaves like jewels hold and flutter
on the varied physique of trees
we pass on the streets
of the small town where
she finds and loses herself.
“Aren’t they beautiful,”
she startles me with a remnant of spontaneity.
We share the ruby silence,
held in joy.
I tell her about her husband’s funeral.
“The birds will miss him,”
her oblique response.
“Yes,” I say,
holding in mind’s eye
the tame and avid magpies
who came each day to his hand.
As the gold of the day pales
I lead her back
to the other side of the door
and kiss the top of her thwarted head.
Leaving her there, my mother’s sister,
the cruellest, kindest thing.