Studied In The Study 1917

George's father called Polly
into his study.

She had been there
a few times before
as a maid
but this was different.

Sit down, Polly,
he said.

Polly sat down,
all the time
looking at him,
taking in his greying hair
and that moustache of his
and those dark eyes
piecing at her.

How is George?
he asked.

He is a little better,
she replied.

His mother said
he ignored her
when she came
to see him
the other day,
his father said.

He doesn't talk
to anyone much,
Polly replied.

He talks to you,
his father said,
why not others?

I don't know,
she replied.

The day before
walking with him
in the grounds
he spoke only
a few words.

How noisy
the birds were,
he had said.

And that time
the other night
as you were
putting him to bed,
he had taken your hand
and said: come to bed.

But you hadn't;
you said,
later, George,
but never did.

That would be unfair
to him and you,
you thought,
not like the old days
before the war,
or before his shell-shock,
when you and he
made love in his bed
at his request.

Has he improved at all
since he returned home?
his father said.

I think he is slowly,
you said.

I would have tried
to get him a man
to take care of him,
but he seems better
with you
and if I got a man
he might go backwards,
the father said.

I'll take care of him,
you said,
all the time
he needs me.

His father studied you,
his eyes searching you,
and you wondered
if he knew about you
and his son before this,
knew about the sex
and such,
but if he did
he didn't say
or give any hint
or say as much.

by Terry Collett

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