by Marilyn Hammick

The family at dinner: in the moment
between the last fork being put down,
and someone deciding to collect the plates,
in that moment, he spoke:

I’ve something to tell you.

His words - reluctant, strung out -
dredged up funeral gossip,
a tangled family who’s who,
a distant aunt’s wedding gift.

Now, years later, I can’t recall
his exact words. Did he start by saying

your grandmother, she wasn’t my mother,
your aunt, the one in Australia, she’s my mother?

I do remember I said thank you,
as he passed me his plate, as
pieces of a puzzle fell
into the secret he had kept

from his children,
his history common knowledge,
his paternal silence broken
rather late, I thought.

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