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November 10, 2017

Throughout your life, you suffered prejudice:

a look, a word, the absence of a word,

led you to add offenders to your list –

though what they’d said was seldom what you’d heard.


And yet to those who knew their place, and yours,

as I did naturally, you shone so bright

we basked, and took for granted the applause

accorded – sought by – you was yours by right.


When your candescence died before you did,

if you knew us, or you, you gave no sign;

we prayed you weren’t aware of how you lived –

the helplessness, the odour of decline,


your not quite puzzled commentary and tone:

I knew you yesterday; don’t make that face;

my brother’s ship is due; is this my home?

And then withdrawal: an empty pupa case.


One morning like today, in spring’s chaste light

you drew me close – you knew me after all –

and whispered I went to the edge last night –

they held me back – they should have let me fall.


In that clear glimpse before the clouds closed in

again, your hopeless eyes told me you knew.

We kept your flame alight but faltering.

And now, I struggle to remember you.


Published in Pennine Platform, No. 82, 2017

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