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Him Indoors

His body failed.
Enraged, he sat at home,
unshaven in his dressing gown,
and issued orders to her failing mind.

Her hourly shopping trips were gasps for air.
The wine or peppermints or cake he wanted
gave her the excuse.
She brought the items back in ones and twos.

His last unclouded faculty,
the power of speech, he used to scorn her
for forgetfulness. He hit her from his chair one day:
milk chocolate, not plain.

She ran the gauntlet of the sympathy and gossip
down the street and at the checkout.
Chocolate. Milk chocolate. Milk chocolate.
Around her eye, the wound enlarged her shame.

It was a second marriage for them both.
The plan had been to make new starts
in London, in retirement. Concerts. Plays.
Their best feet forward. Positive. And then.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Zawe Ashton