Bloodlines: i.m. Joyce Salt 1920 – 2010

Prune-scalped she surfaced
ninety years ago
into the Naughty Twenties
first-born to Matthew George
and Jessie Miles.
Twenty years on –
youth spent between two wars-
she met dad in the Library
where his persistent borrowing
impressed. In forty four,
head-butting down
that dangerous corridor
came me –
to Joyce and Arthur Salt,
a girl;
then, after a decent interval,
my brother, Neil.

Now, standing next in line
I think of family.
Celebrate rivers
carrying our genes
on laden random coracles
from them, to her, to us
and handed on.
Celebrate those in our geography
who came and went
and left their gifts behind –
A Woodfield nose,
Aunt Winnie’s sex appeal.
the space between dad’s fingers,
someone’s eyes
repeated like a mantra
face by face.
I think of spitting images
freeze-framed in photographs;
of ravelled natures;
interfretted lives.
John Walter Gladstone.
Daisy Winifred.
James Roland,
Frederick Arthur
Matthew George
and Jessie Emmeline.
I think of Peggy
slaughtered by a bomb
of little Emily
who died in infancy
and most of all
Joyce Winifred,
with ninety scored –
celebrate kinships
intricate as webs
of histories interlaced,
of loves that bind.
Of all those names
we cannot know
walking the future
with her mouth, my hair
gone frizzy in the rain,
not tall
unborn and yet familiar
inheritors of our calligraphy
our signature of blood
our writing on the wall.