On the Death of a Sunday Painter

He smoked a cherry-wood pipe, knew all about cannas,
And deplored our lack of a genuine fast bowler.
My uncle called his wife Soft Hands.
Once in 1936 as he sat reading Ulysses
In his Holland Hall drawing-room, a student walked in.
Years later I read him an essay on D.H. Lawrence
And the Imagists. He listened,
Then spoke of Lord Clive, the travels of Charles Doughty,
‘My dear young fellow . . . ‘
I followed the mourners on my bicycle
And left early. Some of his old friends watched the cremation
From the portico of a nearby house. 

from Distance in Statute Miles (Clearing House, 1982), © Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 1982, used by permission of the author

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