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Josephine Collett

What is left unsaid

He shuffles towards me, this obscure stranger
Again, the shock of his bearing surprises me
I see him through the lengthened glass of memory –
the sinewy arms that balanced
a wobbling girl on her new blue bicycle,
the feet that trod sturdily over mountainsides
with hampers and children and dogs.
His cobalt eyes brighten, his beaming smile assures
we are not yet robbed of recognition, my name
still sounds from his lips, he who names people
but fewer and fewer things
His priorities always were fine ones.
Like broken telegraphic code, we communicate
in half sentences, his utterances
A tangled ball of words, so knotted and twisted
it cannot be undone
As I guess at his meanings, his face held so close,
I can feel the spittle and sour-sweet odour of winter, that
which frightens his grandchildren, without offence.
I fill in the blanks in the air, writing what is left unsaid

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