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Flesh On The Bones

Lauren Phillips-Freeman
2 min readAug 26, 2022

For Grandad Clarke

Perhaps it is strange that you should be
the blueprint for my romantic ideal
when I’ve never seen a picture of you,
when all I have are four little words
said long ago in answer to a child’s question:
What was he like?
Tall, dark and handsome,
She made you sound so dashing,
even as a child I thought,
That will probably be my type too,
and lo and behold it is.

Those four words were enough back then,
but they left my adult self unsated,
she had given me nothing of substance
and now she never would,
gone were the people who could
put flesh on your bones,
for a while you looked lost forever,
but I am nothing if not determined,
so I gathered up the few fragments I had,
and armed with little more than your name,
I set off in search of you.

I found you among the archives,
hiding in lists of dates and names,
I coaxed you out from among the records,
finding answers to my unvoiced questions,
I found your date and place of birth,
I found out who your parents were,
I found your brothers-all three of them,
that you might have had siblings
had never crossed my mind,
til then you had merely been a vapour
floating in the ether, anchorless.

I found all that, but I didn’t find you,
names, dates and places do not a person make,
I know everything and nothing,
the odd titbit here and there,
gleaned from the memories of others,
I’m told the real you had a moustache,
though the you in my mind never did,
I’m told you were quite a Jack the Lad,
fond of fun and drinks with friends,
and by that token alone I know
she could not have suited you less.

Lauren Phillips-Freeman

Lauren Phillips-Freeman is a language teacher and writer with a love of words in all their forms. She uses writing to help her process her own tangled emotions.