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In memoriam Tennyson said

Nine years of things about his friend

Who’d died. He brought him back by slow

Degrees, from sunsets, wind in the trees,

Gathering pieces painstakingly.

Tennyson, in his purity,

He never lied, never missed his line.

Grief became him metrically.

It made him blind. All he could see

Was Hallam’s absence: the whole world

A cancelled cheque, crumpled and furled,

Unspent inside his pocketbook.

There its yellowing edges curled

Until his friend crept out, imbued

Everything and made it new.

At second look, he saw it through

Lost eyes, and it was dearer far

Than it had been before. A borrowed

Death does that for you. Your own cannot.

We each will miss the lesson that

We’ve taught. Compassion is what we learn

From those who die and don’t return.

Grief gives us that hitch in the eye,

Catching on things as they pass by.

74

Sarah Tolmie

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