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Bon Voyage

The family sat on awkward chairs
round my father’s hospital bed,
while he waited for death to come.
Cancer had already taken his voice.

He flung back the sheet
and pulled my mother into the bed.
She sat there in silence,
his arm was around her shoulders,
they looked ahead to a distance beyond the walls.

The bed was a little boat
and they were sailing away,
there among the relatives, among the other beds.
They had sailed for so long to get there;
now they were going on.

But my mother started to tremble
and hid her face in her hands and wept,
then shook herself free, jumped
to the floor and stepped away from the bed.

My father put hands together,
his mouth shaped pleading words we couldn’t hear.
My mother made a move towards him
and his crooked hands tried to grab her
as the current pulled him swiftly into the dark.
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