Kathleen Florence Lily

They always told me that you were a myth-
product of an overactive imagination.
Though fleeting I had sensed that you were real,
Sitting on his knee he would tell me,
how much I was like his little Kathleen.
Twenty years to prove now your existence.
There remain, three things which relate to you,
three small things tell one small and shortened life.

You all stand stiffly to attention,
Father must be watching across the room.
All five straight, in descending size, and gaze.
Ernest, May, Ethel, Tom, finally you.
In uniforms, pinafores, and sailor suits,
1902, in sepia, like amber.
I can see though, you hold Tom’s hand shyly,
and you look back at me with my own eyes.

The next set piece, not that long afterwards,
six months later, though everything has changed.
Stoic, black-veiled, they stare lifelessly at the out.
The letters Harris, Valletta Harbour,
along the bottom of the black-bordered card.
Parents remain ever outside the frame.
Black armbands and hats tell the hidden tale,
gap in the line where once you had your place.

Youngest of Thomas and Elizabeth,
“He shall gather the leaves with his arms and
carry them in his being” reads the quote.
White-stone inscription askew, but intact.
You have lain long, among the forgotten
babies, in dust-blown Kalkara’s lost lanes.
I know now why Thomas cried to leave you,
Small, forgotten, and far away from home.

One day, my doppelganger, my twin, my semblante,
I shall bring your brother’s so long-promised flowers.


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