Bags of Bones

An old couple I saw at a market.

Bags of bones in tallow skin. 
Balding heads – hers kerchief-wrapped 
Hiding chemo ravaging.

The wheelchair rattles over cobbles 
Spilling earth from the hardy annuals 
Perched on her precarious lap.

She grumbles, “Mind that lorry!”

He chuckles, “I ain’t blind yet, Mother.”
But his cataract op. is long overdue.

“Careful up the kerb! 
You’re spilling me morning glories. 
You’ll be the bleedin’ death of me.”

“Remember we climbed the Three Peaks? 
The year before we had our Jack.”

“Jack? What happened to him?”

“You said the hills looked blue steel grey.”

“I remember those hills… blue, steel, grey.”

“You always said you’d go back and paint them… one day.”

“I never did. What hills were they?”

“No, mother… you never did… we had our Jack.”

“Did I not? Jack? Who’s this Jack? Don’t know any Jacks.”

“He went away… long time ago… don’t trouble yourself.”

A tear welled and trickled the corrugated guttering of skin
Drooping from cheek to dimpled chin. 
“Jack! So smart in his uniform. Will he be back soon?”

The old man stops, wipes his eyes. 
“Any day now, Mother. Any day…”

She smiles, “It’s a long long road, is life.”

“We’ll be home in a minute, Mother.
You have yourself a nice long sleep. 
After your nap I’ll bring you a cuppa.”

“Is Jack coming for his tea? I’ll bake him a cake.”

“Yes, Mother… we’ll set him a place… he’s on his way.”

© coolhermit 2023
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Well, this one brought me to tears! It’s so well done. Simple language telling a story so beautifully. I’m sorry that I can’t comment on the structure, because I know so little about poetry. I love your words though, even if I did have to reach for the tissues.


.’…chests of splendrous jewels encased in parchment skins…’ – hah! Skin ain’t quite parchment yet, but contains , indeed, many pearls…


You have such beautiful phrases. That reminded me of my great grandfather who lived with us. He was an incredible character and I’ll always be glad I was able to know and spend time with him.
Perhaps I will, Thank you for the advice. I’ve always been one for making my own rules.


I know you don;t need telling, but this really is quite brilliant.


Lots to love and enjoy, too many good lines to call out one, congrats on the Nom. I like the things you don’t say.


Well, this is a brilliant reflection on one of the stages of life .It could have been my late wife and myself..Brilliantly executed.As for the poetry,I agree coolhermit,.Congrats on the nomination..Be lucky, Peter.

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