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we recall,
in rose-tinted retrospect,
a hostess in a party dress,
at a threshold, fresh
and daring and defiant.

hers was
a beguiling honesty,
open as a box of chocolates
that we all dipped our hands in
to pick out our favourites.

she confided,
floundering in a sea of errors.
her story
unfurled in a torrent,
her ‘there but for the grace of’
cautionary tale.

she spilled,
a tipsy princess in glad rags,
her entire can of beans,
a kitchen-sink drama,
a glenn tilbrook lyric
of a life, down the pan
and up the junction.

her macarthur’s
park melodrama
swept us away on its tide
of heightened emotion;
our own lives
monotone in comparison,
muted, existence with
the sound turned down.

we saw
a damsel in distress,
enchanting and enchanted,
a firefly trapped
in an upturned glass,
she blazed
and would not be

she floated
buoyant on a breeze
of carelessness,
a fleeting heady
taste of triumph
just before
a headlong plummet
into ordinary,
a prolonged sojourn
in commonplace.

we heard
a soap opera scenario,
one wrong move
a false step into forever.
it was
her nature to soar
above us all,
a bird’s eye view
on the dutiful.

that night
we all got drunk after
our various fashions,
to forget what we’d done
(or hadn’t done)
and all
embarked on
roles we never
rehearsed for.

we did not
witness the sad decline
from her glory days
when she held
every boy’s heart
in her thrall;
could turn heads
with a toss of her hair;
from when
it looked like she could
have had it all.

so autopsy
if you like
her thrilling runaway
train ride of a life.
but we will
remember her 21
and passionate,
paused on the brink,
the heroine of the story,
when all was yet to come.