A Graceful Death Poetry
There is no space here for anyone else
There is no space here for anyone else,
the strip light, the white walls,
footsteps in the corridor outside,
trolleys, teacups, ticking clocks
only the two of them exist.
Within their sanctuary
unravelling the final threads,
a hand slips from the sheet,
and she is there alone
with legs so numb
she cannot stand, but sits
her breath the only sound.
You chose silence, did not speak of the cells that circled your body
invading organs as an army might take over a city.
You chose silence as if you knew that time was short
and its minutes too easily drowned by tears.
You chose silence, to avoid the painful subjects that might rise
like bile, till all memories taste of its bitterness.
You chose silence in this wasteland so that you could also choose
which of its stones to lift and look at, hold in your mouth.
You chose silence to shield your children from pain,
as if that cup were not already full, and running over.
You chose silence, and all the bright leaves of conversation
that blew across our speech withered, and fell unsaid.
Words disappeared before the wide maw of your
approaching death, waiting for the next, last, silence.
I saw you, standing in May sunshine,
head bowed in contemplation of
the silent lawnmower at your feet,
breathing the slight puffs of an old man
whose strength has run like sand into the soil,
hands on hips over a cloud-grey sweater.
Children’s voices came from the garden
where they were playing on the grass
without a care. And the tarmac ran away
from your feet into the shadows underneath the wall.
I see you still, captured in that moment
when I stood still, when I heard the shadows
speak with heavy certainty:
you won’t be here in a few month’s time.
Remember this, the sun, the stance,
in its finality. You won’t be here again
beneath the blue sky, hearing the children
squabble in the garden, breathing
the light air.
Drinking of you
They check on me now and again;
with their clinking spoons.
Drips of tea through straws.
It’s like love
With one pot between me,
the darkness out there
Stirred with one slow hand,
Here we are
So here we are
just for a minute. Together.
The hospice smells of cleaning stuff
and your skin is soft.
I kissed your cheek and you smiled
and I hold your hot fisherman’s hand
in my practical artist’s hand.
We pause for a moment.
The air? I don’t remember the air.
Let us take him now, said the nurses.
Yes, I said, but what I meant was
I know how bad I felt there.
I feel so sorry for the couple in the painting.
Another tired, ill man came in just now in his wheelchair.
I must take him away from her and lie him down.
He isn’t well and is so tired. So very tired.
I miss the chats, my cup of tea
I miss my home, someone there for me
I can’t imagine life without you
You were always there, my rock
My guide, my moral ground
I fell apart, in shock when you left
But something’s changed, that I can’t quite grasp
I feel free to explore who I am
Sitting here writing a poem
You’d never have understood
I’m on a spiritual journey
No priests or vicars, no guilt
New ways of being
New realms to explore
To at last, be free to do it my way
You said work hard, know your place
Look after your man
You were right for you, but wrong for me
I miss you, but I am now free to be me
O Ye O Ye O Ye Here comes the Queen