Sheila Jacob

Granny Pat Dreams Her Last Performance

There’s a pff of sawdust

and oohhs of indrawn breath.

She kneels,rises,stands

footsure and featherlight

on Bella’s bare back,

stays upright for a full circle.

Her arms are sequin wings.

Plumes flutter and nod

on Bella’s jewelled tiara

but the mare’s brown head

is steady, eyes unblinking.

The crowd applaud,

throw flowers, carrots, kisses

in a tidal wave of warmth

and Bella snorts, swishes

a glossy black tail.                                                         

 

She unpins her hair

and Bella’s headdress.

They gallop into the gold

of an autumn day,

race across fields

freckled with fallen leaves.

She gasps at the wind

in her ears, wind

on her face.

Her hands

are Bella’s withers,

her heart

is the thud of hoof beats.

They clear the stream,

and pant, as though

in one final act of love.

Uncle Bill

You weren’t the brother in law

of Dad’s dreams: read The Beano,

chuckled at Bugs Bunny on T.V.

and whistled pop songs non-stop.

But when you gave Dad

a thumbs-up sign in hospital

 

I remember his face brightened.

You threw him the strength

to lift his head and return the gesture,

petty grievances forgotten

as he lay back on his pillow

and drifted, untethered.                                                     

 

You outlived him by four decades.

Held on, white knuckled,

through years of diabetes

and glaucoma.

Cherished hopes you’d drive

your car again. Some day.Soon.

 

Dialysis and a bowed spine

couldn’t silence you

in those last months.

Not leaving this house, you said

Your bed was brought downstairs,

a commode placed next to it.

 

You penned my birthday card, as usual.

inked STreet on the envelope

instead of 51 and squashed

town and postcode together

in an upward-slanting line.

Somehow, love and best wishes arrived.

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