Helena! We never knew,
but here it is, in black and white,
with your dates and titles –
much-loved daughter, sister, aunt
and the coy allusion to
a long illness bravely borne –
thanks to all at Hospice.

To us you were just Helen, a
quiet girl of kindly
disposition, slow to anger,
slow to anything, having
always that air of slightly
outworn gentility.

From school I remember nothing
but your prize-winning
handwriting, its perfect bows
and curlicues, as pretty
as a freshly ironed pinafore.

You came down from the farm that lay
beyond even ours, further
up the track, at the edge
of our extremest roaming;
a place, like ours, of sycamores,
of puddled yards and flapping clothes,
of thwacked flanks at milking and
the sweet smell of ripening dung.

No place for a Helena.

Was that your mother, reading
Shakespeare in her confinement,
somehow expecting someone else,
but loving you instead?



David Callin