Leaving You, Looking Back – Sue Proffitt

I’m imagining crystals you said

I live in South Devon and am a poet / writer. Over the past 20 years there have been significant and hugely difficult challenges for me in facing life-threatening illness in those whom I love. My partner, mother and best friend have all struggled with cancer. I’ve looked at Maggie’s website and it reminds me so much of the Mustard Tree Macmillan Support Centre at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. That place was such a sanctuary for me at times. We all have to come to terms with our mortality; I’ve learned that. I’ve also learned how coming to terms with it makes me so thankful for the wonder of my embodied life, and the lives of those around me and the innumerable other life-forms inhabiting this planet.

Leaving you, looking back

for Hazel

It started with an alien thing 

tracked in the deep space of your body,

sucking a kidney. Expelled with its prize,

but not before a tumour-stream of stars

metastasises, bright on the screen.

I’m imagining crystals you said, 

weeks later, shining inside.  

Sitting with you at home, 

spring sunlight shifts the goldfish

in the pond, nuzzles out-nosing bulbs. 

The air around you inhales ​    

and stops.

You occupy silent space  

whilst sounds surround you –

kitchen-business, radio, birds. 

Nights dislocate. You finger fear 

along the edge of hours –  stay with me.

Oh, but you travelled wildly those nights. 

Barbados, Hawaii, memory’s miasma,

glittering fragments hijacking the dark.

In freefall now, in the half-light

of your hospital room the fragments 

of your still-embodied self unravel.

Help me stand you beg

but I can’t – your atrophied weight 

too great, – too frail

instead I press my palms 

into your soles hard, 

pushing my guilt against you.

I am your ground now.

It isn’t enough.

Sue Proffitt

Did you enjoy this poem? Why not visit Maggie’s website at: Maggie’s Centre Nottingham to find out more about their exceptional work and/or make a donation. Do you have a poem you would like to submit to Voices? Feel free to do so by email at: voicespoetry@outlook.com or via the ‘Contact’ page on this site.

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