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Lizzy Bunting

 

Beneath its roof of sad grey slate
blind windows tall and dark
from the jaundiced building stare.
The gravel’s dust sinks silently
as through the dark and oaken door we pass
where vinyl chairs like brown and broken teeth
stand empty in death’s waiting room,
time dribbling through the echoing air.

Fearfully we pace the corridors
afraid to stir the sterile air
or breathe old age’s shallow breath
or death’s that also lingers here,
like silent ships we settle round her bed
afloat on an antiseptic sea.
My brother takes her long blue hand
and draws her back into the day.

Frail for ninety dying years
she neither cares nor knows her time,
her bone white hair, her paper skin
her legs almost too thin to raise the sheet
her breath too quiet to dull the beating clock,
dissolving dryly into the grey white bed
her milky eyes look blindly into mine
as she sinks into her final sleep.

They buried her in Granddad’s grave,
in the open countryside
by fields she never saw nor roamed
whose pond never saw her image in the sun
whose church never heard her song nor bent her head –
for her heart was in Durham’s hill, the river round,
on cobbled street and coal dust grown –
her name not even on this stone.

 

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