“Goodbye, my sweet,” he says; plants
a kiss on my forehead...tears in his eyes.
I want to say, ‘Goodbye; I miss you,’
but the words come out all wrong.
I want to tell him, ‘I am hungry;
no one’s fed me in days.’ Want
to tell them, ‘No – please...don’t
take my plate away.
Is it such a crime to be old?
I have lost the power of speech,
but not my mind...’ Oh, I know
I am the butt of their jokes...this
‘decrepit geriatric’. I’ve heard them
in the corridor; a statistic, a bed-blocker
is what I am in here. The sooner I’m gone,
the sooner this bed will be free...
the sooner some other poor sod
will lay their head on the pillow – know
what it is to stew in a pool of urine
for hours on end...bed-sores
stinging like crazy.
See that photo over there – that was me
when I was young, in cap and gown;
the only girl down our street to make it
to university. Commonplace – nowadays.
Maybe that’s the trouble; a degree
won’t teach you when to hold someone’s
hand or to cut up their food.
And maybe, tomorrow, it’ll all be all right;
I shall start to forget. Forget I’ve got
an empty stomach... that my mouth’s dry
as the Kalahari...
that look on my husband’s face
when he thought I didn’t know him.
And, I might even forget to remember
who I thought I was.