Spring 2008 Poetry Competition First Prize

A Friend Dying

by Clare Girvan

In youth, would he have wished to die

Gloriously, at speed,

Tragically tangled in metal,

His name in the papers?

Or with greater wisdom,

Beloved husband, peacefully closing down

A life well done, with rightful ceremony?

Not like this;

Sear as a tobacco leaf,

Shrunk sapless onto his big bones,

Tucked childlike into medical sheets

Amid a foolish exuberance

Of roses, iris, pinks and fiery marigolds;

Caught helpless between worlds

Like a fine tree, falling, falling.

Out in the street

The sweet young girls he loved

Swing by, brave-breasted in brief summer tops,

And for form's sake only

And in loving memory

He touches the arm of the pretty nurse

Who brings the tea.

 ©2008 Clare Girvan

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