The Letter That Was Never thrown Away

There’s a pile of faded papers
and an envelope on top –
Dad takes it out, gives it to Dolly.
The envelope is yellowing
and furry at the corners
the stamp is a man’s head
with a pointed nose, wearing a fez,
the address has flourishes,
the handwriting curls across the paper
as if it wants to fly away.
Dolly stares at it in her hand:
Why did yer never tell us?
The franking ink is purple
Frankie makes out the word Maroc,
reminding him of labels on tangerines.
So Grandad went to Morocco? he whispers.
Inside is one sheet of flimsy airmail
in faded airforce blue.
Dolly looks at it, then with a tight voice says
to Frankie, Here.
Frankie reads
Dear Margaret
I know you will never forgive or forget –
your God was never going to let you.
He was never going to let me either.
I loved you and the bairns in my own way, truly
and will never stop. But back home
I could never live with you the way a husband should.
Here, there is no shame in what I am.
I’ve changed my name, I’ll never contact you again.
I think it’s best this way.
I’m sorry.

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