content note: illness/ageing
Although (or perhaps because)
I’m neither Prodigal nor Older
and although (or perhaps because)
this Younger went out and built a life
and the Older returned, not
having managed it; which is
which is another (or perhaps the same)
still always, when I visited,
there would be fêting--
if not the fatted calf, then certainly
a well-enough fed one--
and from early morning
would steal from the kitchen
where you’d be weighing,
Peelings tidy on a square
of kitchen roll; those ridiculous
tiny knives we teased you about.
Now, though, you are upstairs,
small in your dressing gown,
a look on your face
as of someone trying to make out
an object in the distance--
not able to, but still trying;
puzzled; your circle buffering,
endlessly. If you were a shop,
the door blind would be down,
the sign flipped to “Closed”.
Downstairs, the eggs in the rack
are dust-filmed, out of code.
The fridge holds Fortisip, crème caramel,
Pepsi Max, cracked-heel-hard cheese.
Even the usual sad slither
of last month’s salad is gone.
So now, when I arrive back with all
the familiar complement of hungers--
now, not even that one is sated.
is a former Poet Laureate of South Cumbria and has been published widely in print and online, most recently in Channel, Poetry Birmingham, Anthropocene and Pennine Platform. Her micro-pamphlet wish you were here is available from Hedgehog Press, who will publish shades of blue later this year.