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Little Red Herring

I don’t know why they took the prom-night picture like that:
coveralled grandpop squeezed into a corner by the fridge,
mum perched obliquely across his lap.
Long white gloves lapped at her elbows.
Roses swam in his eyes.
In a left-hand window, a bone-coloured moon was on the rise.
There’s a herringbone stitch called
jump from one line to the next,
in which the nineteen-nineties succeed the nineteen-sixties,
and a thirty-year patch
of angular open-work
separates the lines with an X.
I was born into that gap
and lapped ceaselessly
at a shoreline
that was not mine and was forbidden to me:
the coast of family.
There can be no comparing of families, no choosing between;
even to fit into one
I would need to have been
as thin as a fish, and neat and mean.

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