Once, when she tucked me into bed,
standing on her tiptoes to hug me in my top bunk,
I closed my eyes.
Memorized her arms about me.
Her hair soft on my cheek.
The darkness of the room, the mobile hanging from the ceiling,
The ragged curtains, the bed against the wall, the globe’s subtle glow.
I held her close.
That moment, like a photograph of feeling,
still fresh as dew.
7 years wise.
I knew that I couldn’t catch her forever.
So I took the picture.
And locked it in my heart.
“Shall we walk back along the shore, just you and me?”
Surf washed our feet with smiles, we dreamt our runaway dreams.
“Come with me to the party! I don’t want to go on my own”
I soaked up a new person, glowing with friends.
“Would you like to come to Tescos?”
I ran to fetch crusty bread, bring her tarragon, tangy cheese.
“How was your day?”
Cross-legged on the cold granite counter everyday I told her my fears.
We giggled, made faces, conducted twiddly solos with fingers.
“You’re not listening”
So I cuddled up close, loved Austen’s beautiful words.
“Let’s ask them to play True!”
We twirled, swayed, tapped, sung our breath out, sole owners of the floor.
“It doesn’t matter if you fail everything”
I worked safely into star-light, got straight A’s, made her proud.
“When you’re older you’ll live in London”
So I fell for the lights, tall buildings and glittering promises.
“My head hurts”
So we speeded in soup fog from Cornwall.
But she said nothing at all.
In that hot white bloated bed she lies.
Her skin is unwrinkled perfect.
But her hands are fat with tubes.
Aunty Julie reads her the last pages of Maeve Binchy.
“She’s got to know what happens”, she says.
In the morning, I tell Kate to help make sandwiches.
We make sure everyone has their favourite.
There’s strength in sandwiches.
Outside the crows circle. Like they can smell blood.
Pathetic fallacy says my English teacher father.
I wear the same big thick teal wool jumper every day.
In the corridors, we are all there.
We haunt the hospital, red eyed.
We are the dead, inside.
Taking turns to look at her.
We tell each other stories of flickering eyes.
Spasms of fingers.
We see each other full of hopeless hope.
The nurses say nothing.