november.

Today’s events have made me think of a poem I used to teach.

We walk to the ward from the badly parked car,
with grandma taking four short steps to our two.
We have brought her here to die and we know it.

You check her towel, soap and family trinkets,
pare her nails, parcel her in the rough blankets
and she sinks down into her incontinence.

It is time, John. In their pasty, bloodless smiles,
in their slack breasts, their stunned brains and their baldness
and in us, John: we are almost these monsters.

You’re shattered. You give me the keys and I drive
through the twilight zone, past the famous station
to your house, to numb ourselves with alcohol.

Inside, we feel the terror of the dusk begin.
Outside, we watch the evening, falling again
and we let it happen. We say nothing.

Sometimes the sun spangles and we feel alive.
One thing we have to get, John, out of this life.

Simon Armitage

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