An Old Story

by Gerry Cambridge

After a long absence
my uncle arrived
one night across the sea
from Ireland. Some terrible thing
had happened. Frost had streaked
his sideburns with delicate care,
single strand by strand.
I had not seen him for a year.
Although a child, I knew
a wintrier air
had laid its hand on him.
I stared as he ate supper.

Here on the Ayr train
travelling to the old woman
my mother has become,
who served that supper to him,
something about the way
my hands rest on my knee
under its threadbare corduroy
bring this memory back. Tonight
I am that man of all those years ago
coming in out of the dark
across the sea.