The Hospital Window

A curtain in front a of a window.

Under the dim luminescence of a single watt bulb, I fish for keys stuck in the communal settee smelling faintly of wood pulp  

It hits me - the eye watering waft of potato mash - something the dinner ladies would like to call “utter trash” 

Lavender soap skin and cherry cola lips. Lies of generations of sick, stick thick 

He would tell her stories, she would Peppa Pig snort easily: 

“He holds a football in his hands. The one she looks at with an orange juice can” 

wanting to hold his in mine, but I forgot they have to get to the church by 9 

“Red bumper sticker says honk twice.” But now the honking inside me has died 

“They stand underneath a tree.” Nothing could change it back to the way things were – Even at aged 3, “its leaves change colour”, wishing I could do the same  

even though brown is the only thing about me other than my name 

“A toddler holding a ‘Sweet 60’ birthday balloon” and 

“a handmade card which reads ‘Get Well Soon’”  

“The sound of a skipping rope hitting her pocket” 

or the skip in your step when you over-pronounce phonetics  

like the warmth in every “yes” 

Chlorine haze drifting your dreary gaze 

“My magpie had flown from the nest” and so has the joy 

“two more left” and I lost my only boy 

“She waved to someone, and they didn’t wave back” 

He said, “I love you” and she reciprocated with “Ew, you’re fat”  

“Arms stuck in play dough.” How did I not know?  

“The magpie came back.” And so did the sorrow. 

Brandy breath and liquor lips. Water vapour dripping from your highlighted tips 

But that was before his complexion got duller 

And after I lost my mother. It was during the loss of her hair  

That those wrinkle lines were starting to tear 

; it felt like only yesterday  

doctor death appeared at the door 

and for once I didn’t have to pray  

no more visits to the hospital 

or hopes it wasn’t terminal  

dad wasn’t screaming inside

sister stopped singing you sweet lullabies 

no more days stuck in my adolescent youth 

sour not sweet as they tightened the noose 

She holds the words of Leo Tolstoy close to her heart 

and I look out from that hospital window, mellow 

just to stop the sorrow from seeping my eyes yellow 

someone cut onions, I say. Paper thin 

just like the sharpie that they drew on your skin 

and that’s when I realised - there never was a hospital window: 

he was partially deaf and legally blind 

and she had ovarian cancer: stage 5 

if 2 plus 2 equals 4 then there’s your answer - nothing less and definitely not more  

the ventilator beeps; straight line; no heartbeat 

and she is finally at peace. 

That was the last day she looked out the window and I remember she said: “I saw the white dove fly,” as they sat together by the hospital window in peace, as I cried.