End of life…

“I’m ten to-day,” she says,
Sat up in bed, nursing a toy white kitten,
Then it’s “I want to go home.” and
“Where’s my Daddy?” before lapsing
Back into her nest of pillows worrying
At the duvet’s hem with a hand so thin
The liver spotted skin’s translucent
And every bone
And every vein
Stands out in bas relief :

Every day’s like every other
(How soon we get used to things)
My brother, my sister and me
Arrive at the Care Home,
Hand sanitise, mask, go up to her
Room, fluff pillows, try small talk,
(Nice room this, sleep okay, fancy
A nice cup of tea?)
Listen carefully to her breathing:

We’ve always known
It’s going to happen
Just not this year,
Just not this month,
Just not this week,
Just not to-day,
But it does anyway:

After the Undertaker’s
Come and gone,
(“Spare yourselves that”)
We bag her few belongings
(Scented soap, new dressing gown,
Toy cat, Vera Lynne CDs)
Silently, go back downstairs,
Thank the staff
Drive back home

To a house
That feels empty.




Kevin Patrick McCann
illustration Nick Victor




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