Poem — December Chill

December Chill

She sits there…
June in the December of her life:
withered skin,
eyes unseeing
speech mangled,
a stroke deadening half her brain
leaving her part vegetable,
part human,
the human crying out to walk and talk again.

Not yet rotting in dark grave
but compelled
to dwell in darkness
inside a swift decaying shell.
‘Bell. Someone’s at the door,’
June tries to say
in garbled words
desperate to be heard.

‘No one’s at the door,’
her husband bellows above the din of
shouting crowds
and thundering hooves
of horses at a racetrack many miles away,
brought into their room
courtesy of BBC
on a TV screen
that June will never see.

‘Bell… door… bell,’ June insists,
frantic to let her caller in —
a hand to hold?
a voice to cheer?
a friend to read?
Awkwardly she struggles
to loudly speak the words —
‘Bell… open…the… door.’

‘No one’s at the bloody door,’
her husband, minus hearing aid,
yells in rage.
‘You’re always hearing doorbells ring
when no one’s bloody there.
For god’s sake, woman —
Shut up!
I’m trying to watch the race.’

I do not ring the bell again,
I walk on home,
James Herriot book in bag…
sad for June, for whom I read
and for a gentle man
that once I knew
but would never be the same again.
Yes, weeping for the suffering endured
when life with meaning is no more.

By Gladys Hobson 2009
Based on a true incident.

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