When they've gone
I'll sift through countless albums.
My father
with immodest Slavic flourish
exhibiting his youngest
like a prize winning melon.
My mother,
with laughing
Elizabeth Taylor looks
suspending a toy
like a gleaming fish.

Fond photographs.
Never taken.

When they've gone
I'll recall with gratitude
leisure forsworn so that I might perform.
My father
with good humoured resignation
ferrying his daughter
to debates, dances, plays.
My mother
with moist eyed enthusiasm
stitching tulle
for a five minute display.

Sentimental  memories
which never took place.

When they've gone
I'll summon up conversations.
My father
with low, mock disappointment
sowing gentle advice
not planting dissidence.
My mother
with consoling loyalty
patching self esteem
with illogical argument

Messages of love.
Never received.

When they've gone
I'll howl with remorse,
tear out my hair,
pound on their coffins
with unfettered despair,
unload the sorrow
humped throughout my life.

But I won't cry
for what has never been.
Joy Reid