A Room with Winter Sun

We’re here for a visit. Brought two cakes
and what cheer we can. She’s been here
three years, the same amount of time that she’s been blind,

the same amount of time that she’s
lost her will to live. She’s tried three
times, and three times she’s been stitched back up. Now she sits

in her room, floods of winter sun
warming her back and yet she sits
in the dark, in blackness without sight, not caring.

‘And I don’t even have the heating
turned on,” she remarks. We chat, she
chats – economics, banking, politics, but no

mention that we just buried her
sister’s ashes today. The late
afternoon sun dances on her face, shadows set

into deep wrinkles ploughed by age.
She’s a sundial casting shadows.
And we eat cake, cut into neat squares by the nurse.

No one is allowed to touch knives
here. Nor scissors. No cords on drapes.
And in between sips of tap water and bites of cake

she says, ‘It’s a struggle growing old,’
and I can’t but agree, although
I’m twenty-years her junior, and then she says,

‘Living like this is pure hell.”
Without emotion and matter
of fact, stating facts as facts. And what do you say

to a statement like that. So we
nod and clear our thoughts with more cake
talking long into late afternoon. The sun casts

deepening colours that track the time,
and we offer the nurse one more
piece of cake but she declines, taps her watch, saying

that it’s time for goodbyes. The cake
is packed up by the ward nurse,
and taken away, where I don’t know, but suspect

that the nightshift will swarm on it
and then lick the plate clean. I can
but only agree; living like this is pure hell.


Written in Denmark 28 April 2013.
This is written based on real events and prompted to Joseph’s Recursions prompt #21. This piece does not follow a specific form, but I have restricted its rhythm and confined it ‘spread’ to an 8.8.12 count per stanza with 3 lines per stanza (reflecting the Taoist belief that the number 3 symbolises death, not specifically of a person, but perhaps a belief or way of being). Recursion Prompt #21


AprPad Day 9, A Low Day at Tai Tam


The tide spilled orange to red today,
it crept in slow with the moon,
a paddling low carpet of crimson thread,
spreading broad in weeping sheets, wet
and hot under a Tropic of Cancer sun –

and I am helpless but to watch this poison
sucking breath from air, and tainting
drink from rain. And I have plunged into
sodden melancholy again,
or maybe I’m wistful; I’m not sure

the difference, except for its
pronunciation. My reflection is vacant;
it seems soaked and dullishly translucent.
I long for the sight and scent of familiarity,
a sturdy mug of tea swirled with milk.

(note 1: I always found the red tides around the Tai Tam peninsula disturbing, knowing the destruction this algae caused for fish and plant life. It often appeared during the hottest months of the monsoon season, which is a very oppressive time of the year in Hong Kong.)
(note 2: This poem was created using “Free-Write” method, which I found very enlightening. I’ve not tried it before today, but think I shall use it again and often.)

Written for Recursions Day 9: Whitewater – A heavy-handed free-write exercise