Almost the hardest thing
I’ve ever done, was surviving
last Christmas. Choosing, buying –
wrapping up presents, chances were
you’d never open. Most, you didn’t.
Each day as it grew closer
I tore the paper off some more –
put the perfume in my drawer.
The pretty ankle-socks
I’d bought in Top-Shop,
tied in dainty tissue parcels,
angrily ripped open – fighting
back tears. I knew then,
you were too ill to use them.
Bracelets, combs – diamante slides
to decorate your hair, never given,
never worn, adorn my dressing-chest.
The gifts I gave to you that Christmas
morning, sadly dwindled to a few.
At best, a cosy dressing gown,
two pairs of pyjamas – ivory silk,
you needed so many of those.
Rose-scented hand-cream, courtesy
of Clarins, your favourite brand.
‘Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise’,
your mantra to the bitter end.
And, of course, the book
you’d especially asked for –
a guide book to Peru. You
were going there next Spring,
you and a friend. You’d go there
still, you said – in your dreams.
You said you’d read it then,
but you drifted off to sleep.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done,
was to open your gift. A letter
telling me goodbye, and unwrapping
a photo of you, smiling at me
from the back of an elephant.
The Kashmiri sunset reflected
in your eyes.