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The Saturday poem: Moments of the mind


by William Letford

Three men sit at the kitchen table. My grandfather
smokes Golden Virginia. Making a roll-up
has become his ritual. His fingers help him think.
So that’s what he does. He teases tobacco from his tin.
My father smokes Silk Cut and has a certain way
of holding a cigarette. Trapping it at the base
of his first two fingers and lifting it to his mouth
so his hand covers the lower half of the face. I don’t smoke
but there is a bowl of soup in front of me. Both men
like to see me eat. The room has been stained
by two lifetimes of tobacco, and doesn’t
physically exist. But it’s where I come for advice. In fact
both men no longer exist, but their voices are as familiar
as my own failings. I slam my spoon on to the table.
Well if that’s the way it is then that’s the way it is.
“That’s the way it is,” says my grandfather.
My father nods his head. He says, “That’s the way it is.”

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