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Artefacts

Artefacts

She offered us her uncle's medals
also, from time to time, such things
as folders of music, a paint-chipped chair
paste jewellery, postcards faint with dust.
We muttered excuses. Old family tat,
my brother called it; who'd want that?

Later, too late, I saw the medals might
have told me of trenches, mustard gas,
explained his shattered leg. I understood
a chair could creak with memories of my grandmother
sighing onto it peeling potatoes as she eased her feet.

Oddments lost in cupboards, buried in
sheds, held stories once - perhaps
we had an aunt who played sonatas,
cousins who moved abroad? Last glimpses
of them, gone when we came looking for
the people flowing through us, who we were.

I didn't come in time. I wish I'd answered yes.
I wish I'd listened when my mother said "take this".

Annette Iles

Annette Iles

About this poem

Artefacts is the winning poem in the 2018 Poetry on Loan poetry competition. Poets were asked to submit poems up to 20 lines in length on th theme Take this...

Artefacts was written by Annette Iles. Annette was born in New Zealand in the 1950s, and grew up there.  She has lived in England for the past thirty years, much of that time in the Midlands.  With retirement offering more free time, she joined creative writing classes at Rugby's Percival Guildhouse, and has been writing poetry ever since.