Don’t Break the Tea Circle
The room sweeps from front porch to back lawn.
The Chinese carpet grips billowing seats
guarded by gold brocade cushions; curtains
swagger at the windows. We stand, them and us,
a circle round a coffee table.
I arrange a smile, ‘Her end was peaceful.’ My smile
repeats in great-aunt’s lips, her eyes
spy on the carpet, ‘So thoughtful to come this way.
Do have some tea,’
passing the Doulton and silver jug. My feet
are killing; she could say ‘… a seat.’ We go on standing;
even the bump. ‘You could’ve phoned.’ Cousin with bump.
I drink. She sighs. An old quarrel wearies
round the chairs, but cushions and flounces are battlements.
No rest for the past.
Loose covers beckon, my skirt would blend,
but sitting is an armoured declaration. I stand.
There’s refuge in tradition: the weather glossed
with traffic jams and roads. We…
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