My mother’s small face is wreathed
and criss-crossed by fear. She has
no time for food or sleep.
Away from the hospital,
she rails at us her daughters,
who can do nothing,
her days layered with quests for solutions.
This man, whose pyjamas she irons
and re-buttons, which she brings to him
laundered and crisp, to whom she carries
perfect nectarines, cranberry juice,
is failing her. She wards off visitors
lest they witness his decline,
frantic to capture an antidote,
that special inscribed phial,
to bear it back in her hands
from monstrous caves like a magical gift,
past nurses, past mulling consultants
and, having fought, to shout in scorn:
‘See? Fools!’ Her every word,
attests to the uselessness of doctors
and daughters, who cannot heal.