There But For The Grace Of


In the car park he told you
how his wife wouldn’t go to the doctor,
visited the faith healer instead,
expensive flights to England
till eventually the miracle man said,
‘there’s nothing more I can do,
take her to the hospital.’

There they explained
it was all far too late
so sent her to the hospice.
Where she stood in the doorway
of that room, the room my mother died in,
and as I passed I saw her weeping
in her daughter’s arms,
scared out of her mind
because she thought
they’d put her there to die,
which I suppose they had.

Years later when I found
the tiny lump myself,
I thought of that woman in her terror,
and how easy it is to be smug, to be sure,
to tell yourself you need surgery
and chemicals and white gowns,
when what you really want
is prayers that are answered,
soft hands promising
to make it all go away.


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