Thirty four

I catch sight of your fingers
feeling for the edge of things
and picture them

years ago, learning
the minutiae of steel and ink, letters laid
row upon row;

or on a friday hastily
before the numbness of the cold set in
tying oily newspaper parcels
to your bycicle to feed
the pious mouths of aunts and uncles;

or aged fourteen, white-knuckled, carrying
messages that cost you prison
accross Vienna embattled. It was cousin Henry
among his trains in his cobwebbed attic
who showed me the commemorative stamps
jagged with the many-eyed ruins
of Gemeindebaute on a blood-shot background, yet unwilling
to take sides: 'nie wieder

All that was before the rush
of decision, that flight
across snow, where you lost the name
you chose later to lose again.

Suzanne Aigrain, 2005/2006