This one relates to the death of my only brother two years ago
In the grief zone…
It was tougher than tough watching your decline,
My big brother, sibling, the only one of mine.
Successful, organised, like an obsessive system fault,
Reduced to the slow lane, life grinding to a halt.
Over time, mobility declined; you needed a chair
You were already resenting it, not wanting to be there.
“A nightmare living within a nightmare”, as you described it to me,
I wanted it eradicated: “go away, disappear, flee”.
It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t much fun, was it?
When you couldn’t even stand up to get your clothes from the closet.
You couldn’t eat without choking and dribbling, too
Yet food was ironically such a comfort to you.
You fell down so often, regularly cut and bruised.
An insomniac, awake early, you could rarely snooze.
You had to cut down on food but also on golf
And control your weight for the good of your health!
The dogs snuggled up and babies played with you, gladly
They hadn’t a clue what was wrong with you, sadly.
When you fell on the floor they thought it was funny
Their laughter was worth more to you than all of your money.
Towards the end you could not really talk
Or if you did, it was halting, like you walked.
No one could quite understand what you were trying to say
So we Whatsapped about Klopp on Liverpool match day.
Your condition was rare which somehow made it more cruel
You were always on top of your game, organised, cool.
Yet when you needed help, no one knew where to find the key
To cure your brain’s Multiple System Atrophy.
I sat at your bedside after your heart failed
Held your still hand, you were twitching and pale.
The day came for them to turn off the switch
You could not recover from the brain damage.
As the light of breath slowly left your face
Your skin greyed and aged, in a death race
This was bleeping dying; it was an awful day.
When you died too soon, in that dreadful way.
So, funeral and life over, I now look back at you
To remember the relationship we had, we two
You knew me bro for well over fifty years
No wonder I still shed bucketloads of tears.
You rode a bike, had a paper round
Drove a boy racer car, wore cravats you’d found.
My friends all fancied you and wanted to date
But you had no interest, they were all too late!
You were a rock for our parents, the one who really knew
Who could laugh at Mum’s vitriol, tell me what to do.
Care for, visit, wish at times their dementia was dead
Sadly, it happened to you instead.
As a child, you were my big big brother
Who looked after me, unlike any other
You protected me and made me laugh,
Tormented me, teased me, induced my wrath.
You once refused to eat from anything but paper plates
Germ warfare announced by my older playmate.
You’d bury and release me in the sand by the sea.
I’d bury you and leave you there, letting you be.
You were the one who pushed the boundaries
Making escape from our childhood easier for me.
We played games, had fights, and squabbled, you and I
But I never in a million years thought you’d go and die!
The last time you visited, I made you fruit cake
I’d gone to some trouble to make one like Mum baked.
You told me then that you’d never liked it.
I proffered a hard scone instead; you tried to bite it.
We cracked up that day, it was so funny.
Your eyes ran with laughter, your tears were runny.
It was like when Mum was singing loudly in the home
We giggled, we roared, we cried, we groaned.
I never saw you again awake after that day
It’s so sad it had to be that way.
The funeral was packed, with family and friends
That day it was real, this was the end.
Two years ago and I miss you still.
I wish I’d had more time for you.
Suddenly my childhood died then, too.
No one to share it with, no one who knew.
The tears are flowing as I write
It is that time of year, time to say goodnight
Just to say I miss you so; sometimes, I feel so alone
Wish you hadn’t had to go, leaving me in this grief zone.
I’m not the world’s best poet by a long stretch but I quite enjoy the discipline of it, finding it entertaining to write on train journeys. Here is one such which I quite like (to be fair it could be any supermarket):
Sunday Down At Waitrose
It’s Sunday, so shopping calls,
Mute togetherness in the aisles.
Dulled, dreary is the proffer of the latest special offer
Purchase a week’s togetherness through gritted teeth and smiles.
Fill the trolley full with fruit.
We can throw it all away in a week when we fail to eat
It. And compost for the garden we never use, in the
House we call our home but do not own.
Slide the trolley, glide the well-worn path
That is the food store of our coupled dreams
Our joint aspirations, so it seems.
This is it, our Sunday outing, a slow sprint
Among the couples glaring at each other to
Speed it up, before the place shuts, cause no bother.
Quietly, of course, this is a temple. Ssh, don’t make a fuss.
Fill the car boot with things we will not eat
And do not need, emptying our wallets but filling our souls,
Full of salad bowls, fish, fowl, and meat
Ready for someone to cook; or just reheat.
Turn the oven on; let’s have the same old meal
Don’t check the fat or the carb count, or how it makes you feel.
Assume the meat is fresh and good, rather than
Something tasteless from abroad, its provenance totally ignored.
Empty the bags, fill the fridge
This is a week of nourishment
Until we meet again, we have in store
Wedding day, dreams
Shattered by life’s tedious schemes,
Or work and chores, we become supermarket