Miss Kay and Her Brother
by Carol Hamilton

Scotland, 1959, still a season
of scarcity. Miss Kay, down from us
three flights of clattery stairs,
fluffy white head and daily walks,
stooped and frail, to exercise
rescue dog, Roy. We were guests
for tea and leaping fires
and many generosities.
Once in evening I knocked.
Her visiting brother and she,
wearing heavy overcoats,
faced each other from worn armchairs,
the two huddled near the grate,
a few glowing coals
bunched in a heap.

For years Miss Kay wrote me
in spider-web script
and sent an annual calendar
of colorful Highland lakes.
Then her letters stopped.
Now I am older than she then,
yet I stand, a girl at the door,
opening to a story which might
never have been told, how tales
wait round hearths: reminders.

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