Social distancing

Sheila is 85 years old.
Sheila has dementia.
Shelia lives at Ridgeway Lodge care home.

At night she curls herself into ball and sleeps under a single sheet.
Like an ammonite in a museum cupboard.

Visitors need a PIN number to get in.
Just four digits.
But ten thousand possible combinations.

1 2 7 9

First a one and a two, then a seven and a nine
More a pattern remembered, not numbers, a rhyme
But the rhyme is not working. All visits are banned.
I can no longer sit and just hold her hand

1 0 0 0 0

So now I’m holding her hand in my head
And I’m that ammonite curled up in my bed.
Eyes screwed shut against the start of the day
Ears not hearing the birds as they play
But feeling the flesh of my kith and my kin
The warm reassurance of skin upon skin…

1 9 6 4

My earliest memory. Here roles are reversed.
The mother is young it’s the child who’s nursed.
A doctor is summoned. The boy is not well.
Perhaps scarletina he really can’t tell.
And my eyes are screwed shut as they kneel to pray
Ears not hearing a word that they say
But feeling the flesh of my kith and my kin
The warm reassurance of skin upon skin…

2 0 2 0

The warm reassurance of one hand in another
First mother to child and now child to mother
We speak mostly nonsense because how do you say
That you might not be back for a month and a day
So my eyes are screwed shut because I don’t want them to be
Ears not hearing her last words to me
But feeling the flesh of my kith and my kin
The warm reassurance of skin upon skin…

“That’s nice.”

“That’s nice.”

“That’s nice.”

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