At least, here, I thought, the walls are yellow-daisied
and a fresh vase of healthy freesias hopes on the windowsill.
One needs a sliver of joy when ninety-three and nomadic.
I thought of home: my flat and its three steps up
that hadn’t yet been assessed for Health and Safety;
its cooker with the knob dodgy since nineteen ninety-six;
and the TV I don’t remember turning off before I fell.
‘I hope you’ll be comfortable,’ she said, pointing to the basin.
‘Can I not sleep in the bed?’ I said. It took a while;
no one expects the recently-cancerous to lob in a laugh.
Her smile was nervous, as though she were the stranger.
I sat on the bed, polite while she blubbed about her own pains:
the shitty husband, payday loans, grandkids in New Zealand.
‘I hope they’re paying you well,’ I said, ‘for hosting a near-corpse,
rotting under your pink eiderdown and sloughing onto feather pillows.’
She laughed. Her face cracked like my cancerous hip last February,
unusual activity resulting in a surprise separation, an ‘oh’ of the lips.
© Fran Hill
Fran Hill is a writer and English teacher based in Warwickshire, UK.