Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Plum Stones

I've spent much of the past four days looking at pictures of the dead. Taken before they were dead, I hasten to add. Taken when they were lying in hammocks or walking down streets (there used to be a whole brotherhood of street photographers who earned a living lurking about on busy highways snapping faces in the crowd- unthinkable these days when your mobile phone doubles as a camera) or paddling in the ocean or just watching the birdie.
I was looking for messages. I received a few.

I learned:

That my great great grandfather was an elegant man,
That the fashions of the 1920s were extremely cool; bring back the cloche hat!
That my grandfather, grandmother and father formed an extremely close and loving family unit.
That my father was an unbearably cute little boy,
That I am related to some people by the name of Huggins.

And...?

It's a one way conversation. My grandfather spent months in Bogota- but I can't ask him why. His leather cowboy trousers are memorialized but not the very important work he must have been doing down there. What does it matter now that he traveled to Moscow selling tractors to Stalin or once showed Princess Margaret round an exhibit of earth-moving equipment?

All gone.

I can deal out his life like a hand of cards. I can flip through it in seconds.

Thirteen, fourteen- Maids a courting;
fifteen, sixteen- maids in the kitchen;
seventeen, eighteen- maids in waiting;
nineteen, twenty- My plate's empty.
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