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Page 5

Darryl Emmerson

But now I couldn't read any more. I knew Mum would not break either the words or their surrounding silence, so I had to do it myself. I faltered.

What do you think?

With that question, a shift occurred. My mother now turned to look at me, and never was a gaze more direct, more searching or more pitiless.

Darling, I am so sorry, was all she said. (This very tenderly, but finally).

I was shattered. I wanted to ask her if she understood the poem, but of course she did. I wanted to ask if she knew why I had brought it to read, but of course she knew that, too. Little escaped her, and nothing in her children. But I could not keep silent, no, not a second longer.

But don't you think what it is saying is true? I asked, like a child, with a kind of wild cry that surprised me. Now my breath came in awkward spasms, and my teeth were clenched to stem the tears I could feel were forming in my eyes.

Don't you think there is some kind of after-life? I refuse to believe that all that we have lived and felt and dreamed and suffered just comes to an end. How can you and I, how can all this that is so real, be finished? Aren't our souls immortal?

But on the word "souls" it was not possible for me to speak any longer. This was to venture into territory absolutely sacrosanct, inviolate.

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