365 Poems/9 – Working With The Dying

Working With The Dying


Resistance and hostility creep up on me,

followed, slowly, by drips of respect.

I still put the Cheerios and toast

on the table, scoot the cat back

into the house after her night of rambling.


I see snow before it’s disturbed by birds.

Forget milk and butter, yet, see the world

differently, and notice slight changes

in most things, most of the time.


I hold hands with a mother

but have put my heart on pause,

while her children cry out loud.

I tell them ‘make her something beautiful.’

She mumbles about an earring

dropped under the sofa months ago.


An elderly gentleman, with eyes

like clean, new pennies tells me,

excitedly, about a Norwegian sweater

he bought from a charity shop

for £2.50. And that his daughter

is bringing it in for him.


The daughter told me, last night,

over a cup of the cheapest coffee,

that she’d sold it on Ebay.


There’s a girl, not out of her twenties,

who tells me there are dolphins,

sometimes, in the bay near her house.

That all of this being away from nature

is strange and new.


She talks calmly about her cancer,

furiously about her loss of freedom.


I duck out of the storm at six,

after a twelve hour shift, to find the kids

have used up all the snow in the garden,

and are sitting wet and alive in the dark,

lanterns that have burned out between their legs.


I examine the kids faces,

wonder about the dreams

happening under the thin skin closed

over their eyes. Then I wake them up,

to let them know more snow is forecast over night.