They called it pottering,
Or sometimes
His hobby.
Or sometimes just plain
Something that whiled away his lonely hours,
You know,
Now that the wife had passed on.

That’s what they said.
Though no-one,
Could begin to understand his passion or his pain,
As he sat with album and tweezers
And the stories of a thousand lives
Spread out before him
In inch by inch rectangles of perforated paper,
Legends engraved in cancellation ink,
The living DNA of lives gone by preserved
Like flies in cloudy-clear amber
On yellowed gummed-backed strips,
Albums caressed by the hands of the long dead,
Their copperplate script an elegy
To lost loves and broken hearts,
Tiny haikus of love,
Shards of pink envelopes marking the passing of years,
Philatelist arias more poignant than any Puccini score
And twice as as heartbreaking,
All archived in the dusty albums
Lovingly stored in the all-embracing library of his shed
Where you can always find him