Postcard to Joseph from Normandy – 4 June 2013

I saw you standing in the cemetery this afternoon, marble skin stretched over the six-point star of your skeleton. I saw your double cowlick, your slightly stooped shoulders, far too far from where you should have been. I lurched at you, collapsed, breathless, at your feet, tried to ask why you were here. I only saw it wasn't you when he turned, shook his head, spoke in a voice that wasn't yours. He told me his name — Felix. I licked the spiky name that was miles away from the soft, round whisper of Joseph. He was Felix and you were safe and I could breathe again. But he — he'd been trapped here for years, lonely but for the stones on his shoulders and the pair of wilted roses nipping at his heels. He'd left a girl at home, he said she looked like me. I wonder if, before he left, he'd play her records of songs she'd never heard, or songs her father had played when she was young that she'd forgotten. I wonder if he'd pour her glasses of raspberry lemonade, if he'd wash the dishes in the sink while she read at the kitchen table. I wonder if he told her he loved her when they were alone in her violet bedroom, if he kissed her goodbye in the station before he boarded his train. I don't wonder, as they did, if I'll make it home safe. I wonder, though, if you'll be waiting.

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