A third draft. For dVerse.
Joy Frances Jones 1914 - 2008
I arrive to collect her things –
two paintings, a wallet, a photo of my dad, a teddy bear
and the necklace that she wore on which they’d strung
her wedding ring. For minutes at a time I would watch it
lift and fall on her butterfly pulse.
Bagged now and in the office. Matron places it inside my palm
and folds my fingers over. A dry touch, but a touch
from a place of love. (Momentarily, I’m five again, my mother
folding my fingers over coins).
Step back and rally. Think thoughts – a balm like water.
Strange employment, I reflect, working here at the edge
of Finisterre, both gardener and ferryman. What do they learn,
in this breeze from others’ memories?
The year before, I wheeled her down the drive, the beeches
blundering in the wind, still in leaf, a draft of crows above each one.
And from behind the house, like vapour rising, Shillington bells afloat,
now clear, now cloudy, ringing away the years for both of us. For her,
a wedding just before the war, or maybe infant chimes occluded
in a winter mist on Erith Marshes, standing at the garden gate, bonneted for church.
For me, the ring of six cascaded like a silver chain, unlinking
as it fell. I turned. Along the fence line, through the trees
and into the fields beyond, a child is running hard
towards the world’s edge.