"And in a mystery to be, when time
from time shall set us free,
forgetting me, remember me."
(‘In time of Daffodils’ E.E. Cummings)
The nursing home – a rabbit warren;
a maze of corridors reveal half-
open doors where TVs blare
and patients snore – indifferent to
the evening news or Test Match score.
Her door, ajar – she glances up as I walk
into her room, and when I gently
touch her hand, she greets me
with a look – says, “Who are you?”
in a tongue only she understands.
A fleeting smile of recognition
and I sigh in sheer relief... until
she calls me – her husband,
by her brother’s name.
I kiss the nape of her neck
as she senses me wince. Winds
her hankie round her hand,
time and time again.
Says would I pull up the blind, please.
‘It’s almost dark, love,” I say –
but do it anyway, sick as I am
with futile reasoning.
She gestures, impatiently,
for her stick – arthritis adding
insult to injury...Steadies herself
against my arm; stands at the window.
Presses her face into a half-forgotten
past... her breath – misting the glass
obscuring even a reflection
of how it used to be.