For J

It is you who clicks kitten heels on Fired Earth tiles,
thuds a spade into clay soil, clips fast a patio door,
who watches solitary over a willow tree, shadow casting?
When you catch your image in the sash glass, who do you see?
the girl who taught me to shell peas,
study dog-leafed pages of the Kama Sutra, why?
Is it you who shuddered at the thought,
caught smoking in your froth-white wedding dress?
What’s the measure of your mother-love,
of two sons on the sibling seesaw, how?
From what do you run, and how resist, and how forgive,
dream of on light summer nights, of what?
Of your bully bankrupt brother, your silly, skittish mother?
How deep the sighs, how slow to unwrap your son’s ivy-tight hold?
To relax, how, to be loose from head to toe, how,
from sorrow, which, what about the penny pinching days?
Why the elongated midnights of your middle years,
with which you shared tawny owl moons?
How does my twelve o’clock slip into your late afternoon?

If we were never friends, who might have taken my place?

© Maggie Mackay

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