A poem by Fleur Adcock
For twelve years I was descended from a ghost
Elizabeth Newton, born 1810
in Marsden and bragged to all my cousins
about the fascinating older woman
who charmed a young man in his twenties
and at 51 gave birth to our grandfather. Not so: that Elizabeth died young.
A white papoose, a few days old,
Floats past my dreams and into the graveyard.
Much later, her younger sister was born
In Manchester, another Elizabeth,
To step into the life that was waiting for her.
She had four children and died in her forties.
Her husband lied on her death certificate.
(He was drunk, of course.) She was his own age
an ordinary match no subtle enchantress.
But how can I separate her from her sister?
They are superimposed on each other for ever.