A Game of Patience


The chair she sat on with its ochre wings

And taupe brocade had covers on the arms

In case of wear of which there was no sign.

The fitted carpet with its swirls of tan

Was down to hessian over by the door,

The curtains were an end of line

Donated to the local Oxfam shop,

They matched with nothing, not even themselves.

The sky outside stretched right across the Fylde

And over to the coast where you could see

The Tower on a clear day. This was not that day.

Also not visible, the Pennines out the back,

You could get to once you crossed the motorway.

The light that made the room was clear and grey.

A print of houses in St Helens, now knocked down,

Hung neatly next to Jim back in the day;


‘We set off Thursday evening after work

I put the hood down on my little Merc

We got to Oban before closing time

And then the next day went over to Skye

Before the bridge. Fort William and round –

Jim used to  like – but – thank you for the flowers –  ‘


She moved her mouth the way the women workers

Held conversations in the cotton mills,

She made us barm cakes and a cup of tea.

Her son came in to see us, the east wind,

Fresh, energetic, open, listening –


‘She used to get the coach down to the Ritz

For afternoon tea. But doesn’t any more.’

‘The only trouble now’s the Iron Man

They block the roads and I can’t get to church

I like to see the bikes but that’s not right.’

We all agreed it wasn’t really right.

But everything else was. Maybe next time

She’d go along to All Saints just for once.

The light fell and she showed us to the door

Chin up and in her final leather shoes.

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