The Bitter End


Sclerotic. Still you lie in fetid ward –
a nurse, surprised to learn you have MS,
protests there’s nothing she can do about
the strip of neon-torture tool above.
And so I stumble into Mullingar –
some shaded lenses possibly may help.
November though is not a sunny time –
I blunder from one chemist to the next,
but no one has them – “There’s no call for them,”
they laugh.
But in the last my tears begin.
And midland mother rushes to the back.
She finds some in the parcels buried deep
and will not take my money. “I could weep,”
she says. “It’s wrong. For love of God
why can’t they sort it?” (Outside fucking roars
the Tiger – inside are two hundred beds
unused.) And mumbling useless thanks I flee.
Through sodden bog-land streets I grimly race.
And you
predictably refuse to put them on.
Your wordless angry look confirms that you
are quite aware of all that’s going on.
There won’t be pious strains when you soon die,
you’ll mutely rage with Dylan’s father as
what’s left of frame unpegged condemns you to
succumb to hunger fourteen months it stopped.
At first you tried – repeated canticles
and psalms at every evening office said
by bed.
And then you shook your head, said no.
Pretence it ended that it helped relax
the limbs that barely you could bloody move.
Magnificat unsaid was joined to hers:
you scorned the mighty doctors and their guff,
were lifted with the meek with silent cry,
a lowly Norfolk girl to Oxford went,
was not impressed with Tolkien, nor with Clive,
and married man who loved, but let you down,
in quest for daughter had four fighting sons.

And now I weep as I recall your pain,
and wish your fierce odd love could have again.

Rupert Moreton

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