You sat in a wheelchair
looking down from a hospital window
at people walking seven floors below:
a view from a diving board.

You seemed too distant to turn
when I introduced myself to your family.
I came to discuss a place in the hospice.
Lung cancer had found a way
to squeeze your spine from the inside.

Visitors spoke of your service to others.
Nurses recalled how you taught them
to swim as children in the local baths.
Generations knew your patience
and for fun you swam the lakes of Cumbria.

Your wife said she felt you needed to talk.
Thought you were drowning
out in an ocean, adrift from everyone.

When the door closed behind her
I sat and asked how you were doing.
You looked out on the garden:
we never spoke a word for twenty minutes.
No splash of noise disturbed the hush.

When she returned you spoke first and said:
We’ve had a long chat and I feel better.

A whisper of mist upon the lake
and you waded out into the unthinkable.

 

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Image by Enrico Sabatini

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