“To Ted with thanks and best wishes – Winifred –” 26.2.1999.
Leanings from a pen in a book I recently came to own.
For weeks I’ve read the private greeting
But am only now setting out to write their poem…
Winifred knew of Ted’s love of poetry.
Found Laskeys’ book, newly published
In the second bookshop she had visited.
Places she herself rarely went
But being Winifred, stepped in for someone else.
At her kitchen table
Toward the dying days of early nights
She stared at its cover “The Tightrope Wedding”.
Flicked through its pages
And read “The last Swim.”
Poetry wasn’t her, but that poem left her
Wide smiling. The intimate knowledge
Both she and Ted would share
The same words, the same page.
All be it from a different table.
As for what to write? Signing off “with love”
Too open. “Sincerely”, too closed.
“Best wishes” less and more of both.
She wrapped it in a brown paper bag
Along with the newspaper.
Both held under her arm casually
Knowing the way to conceal a secret
Is walking with it, down a busy London street.
Having knocked upon his door
And finished swapping days and storied nights
She placed the gift upon his table.
“In thanks, it’s new, just out…”
And that was how Winifred gave the book to Ted,
As for how it passed to me?
Why to Winifred, with thanks!