“Let me brush your hair,” you say,
“how’d you get it in such a state?”
And you scramble up onto those sharp, little knees
on that huge, unyielding hospital bed.
My friend and I, both college crows,
pick through the bones of your lunch leftovers.
You tut in mock annoyance,
I laugh with fake enjoyment
and relate how my tutor had to shake me awake
during a lesson, after Thursday’s folk session
in the student union bar.
My voice sounds shrill
as I babble to fill this sanitised space,
to chase away the silence
In those light-blue eyes, a knowing look
that belies your sixteen years,
no longer disguises that which
I will not — no, cannot — acknowledge.
And you hum as you brush
my unruly curls,
and I’m glad of a fringe
that covers my eyes.
Cherry Tree House, October, 1986
Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children