We had not met for quite a while,
But I recall her haunting smile
Thinner now than in times past
She struggled so with French in class
And longed, like me, to be a guide
So took the two-year course with pride.
We met at CERIA, Anderlecht
Belgium helped us to connect.
«Guides touristiques» is not for all
Though culture held us both in thrall
Art history in the Russian tongue
Put her first foot on the rung.
We shared some notes, prepared our tour
Cold day in Mechelen to explore
But standards in the school were high
For non-French natives, we would try
To do research in different ways;
Sometimes our tutors were amazed!
In 2004 our paths diverged
And new life choices then emerged.
Russian clients took her tours;
We met by chance in Bruges – outdoors
My links with this time now grow faint
Mais c'est la vie – so no complaint.
Yet I was shocked today to see
That Larissa, younger far than me
Will never see a new sunrise
Her death a sudden, sad surprise...
(c) Poet in the woods 2018
Larissa Starodubtseva: born in the Ukraine - died in Brussels 5.2.2018