Poems for life’s events

I wrote this shortly after my Uncle died – some years ago now. He was a straightforward sort of  a man, deserving of a straightforward sort of poem. Telling it how it was.

Uncle Tom

I hadn’t seen him in a while
yet his memory played through me
like a good tune
with a collage of snapshots
(now curled round the edges)
dancing before me

Us kids sitting the length of him
as he lay on his side
at some beach.
His Ford Zephyr (did I
imagine the fluffy dice?)
and his love of tea

Not just a polite cup
for Uncle Tom; no
he drank it in gallons
(or so it seemed to me)
Mum used to joke
about getting an urn

Half the time (or more)
I didn’t understand him;
his London drawl folding
words one into another.
A translator must be called
for our meetings

He loved his girls, my
three cousins, with a passion
would do anything for them
buy horses, pay for weddings
he didn’t have the money
for (but found it)

And for his wife, my aunt
a devotion so obvious
yet unsentimental, just
plain for all to see
as clear as his love
for life and fixing things

I took too long to get
my act together and visit
he died before I got there
but, oddly, no matter –
he was not one for guilt
and blame this working man

Uncle Tom, who adored
my mum’s lemon meringue pie
and left his mark
without trying …

© Liz MacKenzie


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