Dorothy Mary Marwood was was the second daughter of my great great uncle Edward Marwood of Beech Cottage, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. She married a solicitor called Pennington Riley who according to family legend soon left her, disappearing with her money and his client’s money. Sometime after that she became the mistress of a Count Mennini of Italy, living with him in Porofino until WW2. My mother remembers being given a stunning silk shawl by her, and dedicated the poem below to her. She also remembers Dorothy having the most infectious laugh, but thinks she sadly died in a nursing home for alcoholics.
Unpacking the shawl
It had always been too heavy, she thought,
bumping it down the stairs from the attic
towards the bonfire. Now, its rawhide cracked,
liver-spotted with age and torn labels
under forty years of dust, the brass catches
were corroded and proved difficult to force.
Yesterday when she read of his death
she had been unable to recall his face,
as if it was someone else she hardly knew,
who had loved him all summer till war came
and he made her go, with the suitcase, the shawl
and the roses he threw as the last boat pulled away
But now, fingering the silk, she remembered –
his touch, his voice, the unforgiving light,
that twist of pine and incense on the air,
the nagging bells, and how, as they swam out
beyond the rocks, the sea grew turquoise,
silvered with small fish, and deepend into blue.