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Elly Remembers

This is one of the earliest poems that I wrote. I never really finished it properly and it has sat for a couple of years until a couple of days ago. In the Ian Jones book the Fatal Friendship there is a wonderful picture of Joe's little sister Elly Byrne. A woman of 93 who looks out from the page in a way that is challenging, unsettling. This was started the first time that I saw her picture, finished after I had seen her once again.

I am old now
Crumpled and worn
Alone but for my faith
Rosary clasped in twisted fingers

Yet still they come
They wait for me to speak
Always wanting what Elly remembers
And it is never enough

A brother I barely knew
My words more those of others
But I know that he would smile at me
Toss me in his arms

Laughing and teasing
And want to know all
A little sister seldom seen
But often thought of

A handsome shadowy figure
A mother torn, proud and shamed
Yet the door remained open
To visits late in the night

Outlawed and hunted
Ned Kelly’s right hand man
Loved by those who mattered
Feared by them that did not

And they ask about his eyes
Did he see his doom?
The bloody ending
They want to know

And I say as always
He was my brother, our Joe
No killer, no bullet eyes
We loved him
He was just Joe

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