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This was not in the plan...

by Elizabeth Dunford

Sunday afternoon.
A walk along the towpath
to wear you out a little.
I point out bare black winter branches or
beech buds about to burst into leaf or
green foliage turning gold
as appropriate.

You don’t reply,
Your face impassive
or illuminated, smiling
at your own thoughts.

Look, I say, those purple flowers –
foxgloves, like in The Tale of Mr Tod.
And see those water-lily pads?
Just like the picture in
The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher.
And those hazelnuts – I think
Squirrel Nutkin gathered ones like that.

Time to go home.
You charge ahead
or lag behind
or suddenly halt for reasons of your own.

We make hot chocolate.
You scrutinise the mug for specks or smears.
Curled up at my feet
you rest your head on my knee,
the Beatrix Potter box set arranged in symmetrical piles
alphabetically or in order of publication.
Shall we have The Tale of Samuel Whiskers today? I offer,
observing the way your hair has begun to recede at the temples
and that your beard could do with a trim

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