Thursday, 5 May 2016

If love could see me now

Love is knocking at my door tonight.
She peeps through the window and sees me
sitting pale and silent in the old armchair.
She isn't sure if I will let her in.
Truth be told, I'm not sure myself.
I'm used to a different kind of visitor -
the uninvited guest who pushes past me
regardless and refuses to leave.
The house is already full of them -
sorrow, pain, death and loss hanging around,
putting their mucky paw prints on the furniture.
'I come in peace,' she whispers
through the letterbox.

I won't say I welcome her with open arms -
my arms are too tired -
but I unlock the door, leave it ajar
and she follows me into the kitchen
on a breath of spring air.
'You sit down, my sweet,' she says
and puts the kettle on and
while it boils she strokes my hair
and hums a soothing lullaby.
She can see that I have had enough.

'It's not fair, is it?' she says.
'It's more than one person can bear
to have a lifetime's sorrow in a few short years.
You seem like a really good person.
You didn't deserve this.'
I nod my head and let the tears flow
and know that everything she says is true:
not fair, too much, had enough.

She takes a tea bag from a box that I haven't seen before.
The label reads, 'For emergency use only.'
For some reason it surprises me
to find that it has come to this, a state of emergency,
but I drink it anyway and it soothes me.
Love wipes the dust from the surfaces,
arranges daffodils in a vase,
opens up the curtains a crack
to let the light in.

The doorbell rings and I start to get up.
'No,' Love says. 'You rest. I'll get it.'
She picks up a broom and sweeps the visitor
off the step before I have even seen them.
'It was no-one important,' she says,
'The people that matter will come back tomorrow.'
I nod again and drink my tea.
Love seems to know what I need.

'Right,' she says. 'Off to bed.
Leave the washing up. It can wait.
You've a busy day ahead:
swimming, walking, writing to do:
the things that nourish you.
Oh, and those two, the little ones
with the curls, round cheeks, bright eyes and freckles.
You need your energy for them.
Keep them close and they'll hold you too.'

I get up from my chair and walk to the door,
prepare to see her out,
steel myself for the tears that always come now
when I say goodbye.
But she is sitting on the kitchen chair
with her feet on the table doing a crossword.
'Sleep tight,' she says. 'See you in the morning.
I'm moving in, if that's all right?
Someone needs to look after you.'
I nod again and smile.

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