Take what little comfort there is in this night
And holding it, be thankful for the slow drip of time
That makes these hours of waiting fill the silence.
We cannot know what morning brings and fear it.
The clock brings the gift of light which we receive
Through eyes that have kept a vigil in this place of sickness.
The patient stirs upon the pillow and water is offered -
Refused. Raising a trembling hand to stay the glass,
The mouth forms a word the tongue shapes
And all assembled there lean towards the sound
That does not come, and is answered with pleadings and comfort.
The gap widens between the living and the hours
And settles back again to the steady erosion of the body
The inhalation and exhalation, the rising and falling of the chest.
This is how it is to leave this suffocating place
The soft click, click, click, of the morphine machine
Measuring out oblivion or succour or eternity
The face becoming pinched and setting like cooling wax, expressionless
We have to continue, conscious that grace may have cheated us again
Dignity is some other place with flowers, tears and memory
There is nothing here but the ghastly consequence of living
The bed emptied and remade, the machine reset.
revised 3rd December 2014