Love

I was in Manchester Art Gallery a while ago, in the small cafe at the back and a woman came in pushing a wheelchair in which was a man about her age. He had no coordination, no control and she fed him juice or water from a blue child’s cup with a lid. He was her husband. She asked me just to keep an eye on him while she went to the loo. She looked grey, exhausted, tearful and I wondered if she’d come back.

Love

She parked him near the window

rasping at the light

circling his head

his neck straining tendons

the juddering pulse of jaw in his temples

as he spoke but didn’t speak

the shock of a fox-scream of a chid

in a gallery of

quiet, low bass murmuring.

She put on the brake and went,

a minute or so alone in the ladies.

Locking the door

she rested her head against the cold metal paper dispenser.

‘What if you just left?

What if you pulled open the glass doors and

walked in your soft soled shoes

across St Peter’s Square to the library

and on to the place where the Halle used to be and

to a train and the parallel lines of track reaching into the distance?’

No. Go. Don’t come.

Don’t come here into my head

gorgon, tempting, curling your finger.

Not today.

Her arms spanned the cubicle, bracing wall against wall.

‘They’d look after him.

You could sleep,

walk with bare feet on grass,

pick blackberries,

fly soar into clear blue.’

She washed her hands,

avoided the mirror and went back to him.

The door, soft hinged, slow-closed,

the hand dryer unfinished.

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7 Comments

Filed under poems, poetry, writing

7 responses to “Love

  1. Helen Evans

    Wonderful Claire – made me cry and my children pause

  2. I see a book in the making.

  3. So poignant, so true, that’s tough to read though. Observational masterpiece.

    • Hi Niki! How are you? Thanks for your v kind words – it was a difficult one to write but harder to witness. The look of total despair coupled with such love on that woman’s face was unbearable. I had to go to the ladies and blow my nose…x

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