Who Is My Neighbour?

The trouble with old people is

that they expect too much of us:

food, drink, warmth and light,

companionship, care and comfort.

 

My neighbour, Eileen, housebound

I promised that each day

I’d visit after work. But work

was forty miles away, by bus

and train, and back again.

 

Just once, exhausted, didn’t go.

Next day was chided. ‘Where were you?’

She’d had her half rice pudding tin

For dinner, as per usual, left

the other half on radiator

warming up for breakfast.

 

That son of hers! He’d burgled her

when husband was alive. He thought

that I should get her up each morning.

I, of course, said, ‘No.’ Her sister

sometimes came to clean and tidy;

she was old herself. One day

the ambulance was waiting. Sis

had found her, blackened, painful legs

and Eileen went to home, poor dear!

 

One time she said to me, ‘I dreamed

that I had died, and no-one played

‘The Old Rugged Cross.’ I wanted so

to hear it sung, but told myself

that Eleanor would put them straight.

Again, I let her down. You see

I had to work. I hope someone

remembered.

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