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By Linda VanOrden

Wet September trickled through our door with Mr. Abberly
Early for a change.
Shaking his trench coat,
Sprinkling translucent beads from his
Red beard,
He collapsed to the floor-
By the umbrella stand
In our porch where the cobwebs hung.
My mother held his head,
Helped him to speak
About the birth of his new son,
And the death of his wife
At three that morning.

I crouched behind the white banister
On the stairs
That Monday morning before school,
Picking a ketchup stain from my school tie.
No more orange squash or Garibaldi biscuits after class
In Mrs. Abberly's white stone kitchen.
I don't know why death didn't strike me as strange
When I was seven.