0050 Margaret B.
You knew her better than I – you’d
looked after her when her splendid
eccentricity which the English do so well
went beyond the bounds that others set…
I only write obituaries, dear Margaret,
when asked; somehow the others can be messy;
but now of course, I wish I’d known enough…for
how do we know, when we’re so busy
enjoying their company, their joyously,
modestly eccentric company—no showing off –
that we’ll so miss them, when they’re gone?
Who wants to question and accumulate,
with obituaries in mind?
In the 1930s, the only child in that foreign school
to refuse to Heil Hitler before class… that set the tone;
the young ATS, sergeant-major, was it,
who made her way in tin hat, through the wartime bombs,
to attend the evening philosophy and economics classes…
and later, possessed of a comfortable private income,
spent a life of good deeds and giving generously,
money too, in utmost secrecy…
Wartime leaves its traces – for the serving ladies,
it’s often booze or fags (and of course,
romances never spoken of) : but even her unsteady steps
as we met for what was supposed to be serious work -
an hour or two of joyous laughter, at the tragicomedy
called life – her walk was ladylike, as if
the alcohol was drinking her, not she drinking it…
and when after a life of love for others,
she discovered sex in her late 70s…we did not tut or pry…
And when you said the other day, who knew her well,
and loved her like a brother,
‘she was a hurt lady’, I was at first surprised,
then poised to feel compassion; but all
I could remember was laughter and
open hearts and goodness.
The rest I’ll leave, dear Margaret, to you and God.