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where trees opened the embrace
of cottage and church, the land falling
on a blanket from moor to the sea.

You bent your head to mine, white curls
brushed my brow as they had done when
I was a child, bringing comfort, confidence;

slowly you began to speak:
recalling the day of my father’s funeral:
the flight to another land, the cortege
travelling to the village where he was
laid, how people walked behind,
the ritual he requested.

Softly you said it was not the ritual for you.
You had made another life
with another who cared for you
would protect you whatever the future.

Together you’d agreed that your ashes
would blend with the roses
perfuming the air around us,
mingling with those of his first wife –
your first friend when you came to this place.

You asked whether my father would object
– curse from the grave –
“Go for it” was my answer
“if he objects or you are disturbed
he’ll send a wind to blow you over the sea”,
that marked by a bracelet of light
edging the horizon below.

I left you unaware we’d never talk again:
that your life was falling into its abyss:
that the next time I’d see you you’d be in a coffin,
that the cottage would be sold,
that the garden would be redesigned,
that the roses would be removed,
that we were saying “Goodbye”.

© Carolyn O’Connell

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