Writing a Postcard after a War

Ruth Padel

Like Matisse, bending over ink
and watercolour on a shut-in terrace

to sketch the only wineglass on his table.
Its coiled, thick stem. The row

of blobs below its bowl
a choker of pearls for a bony throat.

The candyfloss smudge of thinning pink
within. Its need to know the worst

but hope for more. He’s writing, small
and black beside the pale-rose tint

he’s given
to particles of water drying on a letter, 6th May 1947,

This is the glass in which I drink
the fresh and perfumed wine of Alsace

à ta santé.
Tous les jours que tu n’es pas là.