Tuesday Poem

Shrine

That small deceptive bend
in what seems like a fast straight, where the boy-
racers would come to grief – remember?

Now the scars on the big sycamore tree
have all grown over

and the last of the silk flowers tied to it
are tattered, grey, that were kept
renewed through all these years.

I saw her once: a red-haired woman
middle-aged, in a pink top
wading into the ditch, her armful of artificial sunflowers
held high above the nettles

and her car parked in the bend
where everything northbound had to swerve around it
into the hidden traffic
coming the other way.

Like she could care
her heart dead
to the world, her only thought in that corner

not to forget him
not to permit forgetting him.

Where has she gone
to leave his garlands fading?
Has she laid down outliving him
after so long, her beautiful

careless boy?
What but death could keep her away
from the place of pilgrimage he gave her
by this cold road?

And who is left behind now
to remember all that sorrow
or to lay flowers
(and where in the world) for her?

by Judith Taylor 
from Not in Nightingale Country
Red Squirrel Press

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