You’d like to write, but your cupboards are empty, so you pick up your bag and dash to town.
On the way you decide to drop into Oxfam, but once there you find work to do, so you set to. Soon, all else is forgotten. You buy lunch and carry on.
Someone called Rose phones. You’ve missed a meeting. You say you don’t know a Rose, and no one told you about a meeting.
She mentions the Job Centre
and it sends you
“The meeting is on Friday,”
you wheeze, but no, it was today,
and now it’s too late to attend, but
you get away with the mistake
since she knows you’re
tells you it’s okay,
and arranges to see
you when you come
carry donations from
a car to the shop you spot a man
slumped senseless on step across the road,
so you check to see he’s not dead,
and discover he’s dead
Soon after five o’clock
Karen locks the shop. You check that the man across
the road is still breathing, then go home, where the cupboards
are still bare. You can go shopping after you’ve composed a poem.
The phone rings. You’re supposed to be at a family dinner.
Leaving the flat, you take a route past the Oxfam shop.
You’re pleased that the slumped drunk is gone.
You have a riotous evening,
returning home after
and you try to write;
try to expand on an idea which
only moments ago
you need to
so you go to the kitchen and
reach for the pills but
the phone rings
you press the
what to do next.
A distant voice brings you
to your senses and you hold
the phone to your ear for
For almost an hour
you must be the oracle,
the one who has the answers
no matter how hard the questions
No matter how your brain
may doubt your
You are Mother.
You have struggled forever to
see your children well
so you must
all the thoughts in your daughter’s brain, and if she can cope
with the unexpected change she made to her care plan three hours ago.
Is she being over-confident? Will her heart stand the strain, will she
collapse, will she weaken, will she sink, or will she rise to the
occasion in the amazing way you think she can? What is she
really thinking, and will the doctor support her
decision, or will he say she must carry
out her plan with precision?
Is it all going wrong, or
is it proving better
than you could have
How will it go
You don’t know,
but the questioner must not know that.
Once off the phone,
you start to
Words for Peace #4
You can find the pronunciation HERE.
©Jane Paterson Basil