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i.m. Tony Priest
To the teacher who drank,
thank you. As children, we never knew.
Your care was that of a father.
You taught me to umpire
rounders; spared me the bowling, hitting,
running, taunting of other kids.
For the ghost stories, too,
before home time, thank you. How often
back then I was safe but afraid.
I learned a few years back
you’d died: drowned by alcohol, and sad.
I hope someone – your sibilant
wife, perhaps – was with you,
at the end. That death, like your stories,
was short, and not too frightening.
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