Stories on a Map


Archiving largeGavin Alexander


About one year on
We closed your file
Needing space for other lives

It had moved back and forth across my desk
Gathering dust
The tale told

In the days and weeks after
Many wrote…….the sad
regretful closing of a chapter

Looking back now, over the years
Your face and name elude me
But at the time

I thought of how our paths
had briefly crossed
But only I was moving on

In truth I could not remember
Your face or voice
One of many passing by

You arrived with others
Nervous and tired into an African dawn
Greeted, briefed, despatched onward….all routine

Months later, in that same
Noisy airport dawn
I sent you home

Formalities complete, we stood around
Lost for words
Someone laid a flower

We watched the plane curve North
And turned away
Reports to write……prayers to say

Your parents wrote
Everyone has been so kind
It helps we know she was so happy

From a dusty roadside
To a Scottish graveyard
And I had eased your path for a few hours

But I still remember your file
A life in words
The fading photograph

© 2000 Gavin Alexander
Image: Matt Scott