Poem – Kerry Popplewell

Reading The Master

(In memory of Stuart Johnston)


Last year before you died, you told me

about this book – admired its reticence,

the way it invited complicity,

embraced the challenge of tangle.


Trusting your judgement, I’m reading it now

in bed on a hot morning, noting just

how skeletal my feet appear thrust out

on the crumpled sheet in early light.


The book is much taken with observing death –

the way we watch others approach it, nudge

closer to usurp their right, while expecting

our own appointment to be deferred.


I try to imagine you perusing it

during those last difficult months,

giving it – as you gave each stray

visitor – keen, unsolemn concern.


Sooner than narrow your mind’s focus

onto your coming death, you crafted this

into a final gift, a matter for

proximate wonder, an open ending.


Kerry Popplewell

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