That September

by John Boland

With a shock I realise I’m in the picture, too.
It is afternoon in the Zoological Gardens
and you are seated on an iron bench, beside
a woman who peers primly at the camera;

behind stands a stern-faced man in a bow-tie,
and next to him my father. You are wearing
a pleated skirt and a simple blouse and jacket.
Your left hand cradles the arm of the bench.

You are not yet thirty and you look boldly out,
daring life to do its worst. It is a Sunday
in the second week of the month and I
(or what will become of me) have been inside you

for three weeks. You’re not to know, but in the end
there will be four of us to fill your days
and line your face and, after all is done,
to break a heart run ragged by the years. That’s

in the future. For now you are simply on a day out,
recently married to a dark-eyed handsome man
some years your senior, with good prospects
in the civil service. You have an expectant look

as if you can’t wait for what each day will bring.
There’s no way I can know if you are yet aware
of my existence, or if this day you feel
more proud of me than you’ll have cause to be.

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