Le pied de ma tante it was that undid me.
Restraint and necessity had shored up grief’s demands
until the sight of a bare foot,
nonchalantly hanging, crossed over its mate,
its owner reading Saturday’s paper.
It had the perfection of milk skin that foot,
but betrayed its age in the joint of the big toe,
which carried the distortions of long use
and the child’s memory of ill-fitting, previously used shoes.
I said, I am going to see her.
I want to see her once more in time,
before tomorrow’s crowd.
It had been two days since she left home,
taken by the grey men.
I wanted, bizarrely, to make sure she was okay in the flesh,
to see her safe.
Of her spirit there was no doubt.
So we all went, my father, my brothers and I.
I looked at her face;
I looked at her hand;
touched both in the peach-light
of a music synthetic yet soothing.
She looked not so much peaceful as noble,
resolute you might say,
dressed in her favourite suit.
Drawing back the white satin lining of the box
I looked at her shoeless feet.
She would have been pleased the grey men brought us
cups of tea.
Months later it was my aunt’s like foot which brought my
mother back to me
and set flowing my ample tears.