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Around the Table
by Deborah Russell

around the table
shuffling feet and cards
hacking coughs and muttering
over camels and pall malls
the unfiltered kind
they were the remains
of the men of men
talking about the good old days
that never were
day after day, always the same
my father sat among them
telling his joke
he only told one joke
it would run
as far as he could take it
and then some...
at times he'd say just one word
everyone would laugh
knowing what comes after
one by one their hands folded
and dad's eyes kept fading
turning lighter shades of grey
the sparks of friendships
mostly ashen, now...
around the table
children ran in and out
among the legs of table, aunts
and uncles, cousins
daughters and son
buffet dishes warming
on the side, under lids
filling empty spaces
conversation failed to start
mother asked me if I thought
he really loved her
I replied with sinking heart
yes, of course he did


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