Photo album

“Is that really me?” you ask,

humour finding a way

through loss of memory. “I think so.”

Unmistakably.

Watching you, I wonder

what is the essence of the self?

Does death really unpick all?

You cleverly conceal

the moments when you quite forget

who I am. I arrived too late

to be woven in, yet feel you know

what I am if not quite who.

You offer to introduce me to the dead

who look out from the pages of the album.

“Such a charming fellow this one.

I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.” Doubt

clouds your eyes a moment,

but you say no more except:

“my goodness, what hats we wore!”

You pause at a picture of the house we sit in, say

“Such a lovely place, and I believe

we live there still, but can’t be quite sure …”

Your hand goes to turn the page but your mind

still moves between two pictures, back and forth

and we are caught here –

I for some reason have the image

of a silk dress torn on barbed wire

some long lost afternoon, venturing down

towards a river in full summer glory.

Suddenly released, you at once forget

that two impulses undid each other,

and with fresh energy you offer

to bring us all together, living and dead,

for that ritual cup of tea…

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