There are no clouds
No sapphire sky
No dreams of past
Or hopes to come
Only an endless swathe
Of starless night
And the wish to find
There’s a crow in this picture,
Yet he seeks to deceive.
Motionless, he stands
Pretending to be a branch, or twig.
When I turn away, he caws,
A crow’s laugh at my ineptitude.
He may have won this round,
But when the sky lightens,
I shall have my revenge.
Oh, yes, my friends,
For as the blue reveals him,
I’ll caw back so loud that he falls from his perch.
I shall have the final laugh.
I have it all planned from my hospital ward window.
Enveloped by the night – I lay
Cosseted by dreams – I pray
Wake and strive – they say
Effort will pay off – it may
Waiting for a chance – this day
An evening walk,
Perhaps, a stroll,
Where berries of ruby and jet suddenly line the hedgerows.
An early morning,
Perhaps, a run,
Where the dewdrops glisten like diamonds in the emerald grass.
An afternoon meander,
Perhaps, with a loved one,
Where copper tones bring out the brunette hues of her hair.
A day, yes a single day,
Where you realise right there and then that Fall has arrived.
I don’t have a good memory. I never have had. So why do I remember my Grandad’s final words with such clarity?
He was a proud man, my grandad. Even in the face of illness he never complained. Bronchitis had taken it’s toll on him, day by day, hour by hour, always a little worse. To see him coughing up blood in a rather dismal hospital room was unpleasant for us; far more so for he. I lingered at the back of our family’s small procession not wanting to be the first to talk. When the others turned and walked away, my mother included, I was left alone with that frail old man who had always been so kind to me. He tried to smile as he put his little beaker of blood-soaked phlegm to one side and beckoned me forward. He only said seven words.
“Look after your Nanna for me, Richard”
I can’t remember if I replied, it is a memory lost to time. But, I knew as I left him that I would never see my Grandad alive again.
They were the last words of a man who knew his time had come, but still gave thought only for his wife and Grandson. So I say again, why do I remember those last few words? Because, I too hope to be that sort of man when I leave this world. I think that would make him proud. I know it would me.