Uncle Tissie’s Secret

By Alison Cassidy

His face seemed to sag –
after the stroke.
He’d been a real stunner too,
a Cary Grant look-alike
with dark fizzy curls
Brillcreamed
into corrugated order.
‘He was the only one of us
I saw mother cuddle’
mum used to say.
But ‘something happened’
at boarding school
and he ‘went quiet’
and ran away.
Joined the navy
during the war.
Married his ‘Jeanie
with the Light Brown Hair’
who drank and smoked
at bright parties
where Tissie sang
and charmed.
A handsome couple –
they loved
and hated
each other
in equal measure.
After the stroke
he grew happier somehow.
Enjoyed his disability pension
and made furniture
with his good arm.
Turned many a stick of old cedar
into a chest of drawers.
Never sang again though…
He was well into his eighties
when he died.
Took his secret with him.

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