When Uncle Willie wrote to me
he would write for them both
and sign his letters
“love from Uncle Willie and Aunt Virginia”

when Aunt Virginia died after a long illness
he signed off with “best wishes from Uncle Willie”
as though his love for me had died too

he became a compulsive traveler
learned Mandarin Chinese
took a trip up the Yangtze river
and became an expert on the classical gardens of Suzhou

postcards with carefully wrought messages
came to me from Western China, Mongolia
from Sri Lanka, Sabah and Surabaya—
and all alone in these distant places
(without Aunt Virginia as a cover
for such overpowering sentiment)
he let the word “ love”
slip quietly from his vocabulary

 

Stuart Dodds

 

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