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This poem is taken from PN Review 162, Volume 31 Number 4, March - April 2005.

Seven Poems Alison Brackenbury

Young, Gifted and Dead

The woman checks. 'He was so beautiful - '
Or she - Tree shadows flutter. Caught and clean
The long face smiles, amused to be nineteen
For ever, breaking once again, all rules.
The husband's ageing voice croaks wearily.
'Remember, she would now be sixty-three.'

Quick frowns, which flowed like leaves, would etch their groove,
Dry coughs from flourished smoke-rings hack the air.
Ash would creep through the honey of her hair
Taut waist sag, from cream biscuits that he loved.
Small sins catch our teeth or tempers later.
They missed those, crashed straight into one greater.

Pills, guns or tights, pornography of death,
Remain unfondled, a brief end to grace.
What would I give you? Not to reach that place
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