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The Ghost in the Tartan Chair

By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)

In the corner is a tartan chair;

beneath the tick-tock of the grandfather clock,

opposite the window that looks to the grey day out there,

beyond -

out to October and the chilly pond

in the common land

where I displeased the ducks,

not having bread to hand -

and at right angles to the wall

where the gilt-edged mirror hangs…

The tick-tock is loud as loneliness in the still room

and I perch on the edge of the antique sofa,

not quite making-myself-at-home as I was told to be,

knowing that she’ll come back any minute now

with tea

- and fresh-baked biscuits

and bustling a smile in front of her

in case it escapes

through the cracks when her back is turned

and the sadness returns…

In she comes -

making her way like a miner’s canary,

tea on a tray,

singing out pleasantries to prove she’s ok -

And sits

- when the tea is poured and we have biscuits -

her back to the window,

opposite the tartan chair...

She sees me glance to where,

beside the empty seat,

the cat is sat,

purring and washing and sometimes rubbing

‘round feet that aren’t there.

“That’s my Harry’s chair,” she says,

“His favourite. He never leaves it.”

And she smiles over the top of her china-cupped tea,

returning one that only she can see.

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