Family Portrait, 1928


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All the dear dead, assembled:
my Grandad, benevolent,
he's caressing his briar pipe,
wears knickerbockers as if he's
just returned from the links;
my Nanna, the dark-haired lady
windblown in the back;

the short, plump older lady,
my great grandmother, Grandma Potts;
how I heard that Grandad
lampooned an elderly neighbor
as the "May Queen" -- perhaps a sly
dig at Grannie Potts?

In the front, in a frilly white dress,
my mother, aged eight. Uncle Jack,
my grandparents' brother-in-law, hands
on her shoulders; I recall the shame,
the heat on the back of my neck,
when as a young teen I was told to kiss
Uncle Jack -- how before she died
Mum told me Jack was a "dirty old man";

and, next to Mum, the fair lad in short pants,
glancing down, shy of the camera,
her cousin Frank; I remember the photo
of Frank in leather fleece-lined
jacket in front of the Lancaster bomber
before he was shot down over Germany in '43.

Christopher T. George