Differential Calculus

Robert Greacen
'A genius', Miss Gill said of her brother Theodore, 'His great love is the Differential Calculus.'
Miss gill lived in a house two doors from us. Plaster flakes snowed down on the cats
That lay like princes in the shop window
Weighty with vases, scuttles, foxed Edwardian novels. A straggle of customers patronised Miss Gill's
Gave her class as a lady entrepreneur.
People said she had means, was almost 'quality' Acres in County Down, shares in Imperial Tobacco. Saturdays saw her off in tweeds to Theodore
In the cottage down the line near Helen's Bay.
A caulker who had met Theodore was not impressed: 'Chalk-faced, weak-chinned, half-daft', he said.
Mother thought it mere envy of a gentleman.
Then news came that rocked the neighbourhood. Theodore had burned the cottage, stabbed himself dead. Miss Gill departed silently with cats and stock.
Some said she had gone to cousins in New Zealand,
Others to a mental home, her slate of memory wiped clean. For weeks I pondered the words 'Differential Calculus',
A fruiterer took over, fumigated the house,
Kept pigeons in the back yard.
Page 67, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 28