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  • Celia Jenkins

NaPoWriMo 2024 - Day 8

Prompt: Today, we challenge you to write a poem that centers around an encounter or relationship between two people (or things) that shouldn’t really have ever met – whether due to time, space, age, the differences in their nature, or for any other reason.


It's you!

I'd cried crazily

What are you doing here?

as if she'd remember me

but she did. This was

her new haberdashery

and now

she was but a stone's throw away,

a short walk

from my work.

I could just pop in

and I did, often,

over that next year or so.

We became good friends

despite four decades between us,

despite my poor Japanese (saved by her excellent English)

despite cultural differences

she was a breath of fresh air.

Her colleagues marveled

when I walked in

wearing the shirt I'd made,

that roll of fabric still for sale on the shelf,

and I marveled

at the little beaded keyrings she made me,

so tiny, so delicate,

just like her in the picture,

one of the last,

from the hospital bed.

We'd gone for coffee

in a Cotswolds Tea Shop

and talked about Victor Hugo,

and years later

I wanted to call her up

and tell her

I live in the Cotswolds now!

Do you remember?

But she'd already been gone

for years

our brief friendship

just a slice in time,

her last years on earth.

I so nearly missed her.


It was a friendship meant to be. I'd popped into a department store that I didn't usually go in, and stumbled upon an epic fabric and haberdashery on the top floor. It was closing down and there was a tempting sale. The manager, a petite Japanese lady, spoke English and was very friendly. Japanese people don't tend to be outgoing, but she came over and was chatting away with me, we really hit it off.

Weeks later, the small shopping mall near my work had a new unit - a fabric shop and haberdashery. Well, I was certainly surprised when I ran into Hiroko again! It felt like fate. We became firm friends after that. The Cotswolds Tea Room was a place we went to only once - I think about it often and wish we'd met up more. Hiroko hadn't known that she'd been ill for very long before she died. When she did, one of her colleagues sent me a message on Facebook. I had to ask my Japanese teacher to help me translate it. I'd read the message and not been sure but, painfully, I'd been right.

By now, she'd be nearly 70. Probably still working in the haberdashery. Probably still making international friends, taking pictures of her favourite flowers in the local parks, playing with her great nieces and nephews. I miss you often, Hiroko.

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