Slipping away

The long farewell

She never leaves this room
But long months
She has not been here.

The girls with their practised smiles,
Brisk words and time-is-money hands
Come and go; each routine visit
The first time they’ve ever met.

And after sixty years
He’s a stranger, too;
Well-known enough
Not to be frightening,
But no longer
The man who wrote her
Two hundred letters from the war,
Gave her three babies
And the happy home her giddy girlhood
Dreams were made of;
Filled and healed her heart
A thousand times for every time
He broke it,
And in their souls’ communion
Washed away the evils
Of the world.

Now she is reborn
Each morning;
Entering anew a world she has never seen
Does not understand
And will not know tomorrow.
A slow, sad unremembering
Until she finally forgets even
To breathe.

7 thoughts on “Slipping away

  1. So sad.

    I watched my own mother slide into a place not dis-similar from that you describe – the worst bit of that being that she never seemed happy there.


  2. Thank you – this started as a poem about a lady who lives at the top of our road, but turned into an ‘in memoriam’ for my grandmother, who died two summers ago aged 99. And she didn’t go out happy, either. I think it’s one of the hardest things to see happen to a person you love.

  3. Sad but very good poem. To see a loved one die like that, and you can’t do anything is awful. As it happens I wrote a poem about the same subject, about the death of my mother, I wanted to sent it in as a contest entry but I couldn’t make it and put in on my blog yesterday, The horror of what went on in her mind, in her last moments. Glad the morfine did some work but still.

    • I read your poem, Ina – it’s beautiful and heartbreaking. This stuff is so hard to write about, but I think we do something good for ourselves and others when we’re brave enough to try. Thank you for commenting, as always.

  4. This is so sad and so real. It describes, for me, exactly the place in which my mother was existing for about two years until “she forgot to breathe”.

    This is so moving.


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