All life was compressed inside this travel weary case.
I watch the numbers roll up the scale to 52, the weight
I carry on this journey, on this my final flight
out of here. Patiently, I stand in line parked
behind an elderly floral coat
and watch the Edelweiss leak
its Alpine scent. But I think only of our leeks
back in their muddy patch of garden. In my case,
there were no green fingers, just leaves pale coated
in a frenzy of a thousand flies. I watched them weighted
down, shrivel, die. All the hopes I had were parked
with you and on those bulging stems. But that took flight
too soon. I delay. The tannoy screams the number of my flight,
calls me by name, as a single fear escapes and leaks
across my cheek. Tracks a river down my chin and parks
itself in fragile folds about my neck. “This case,”
the doctor said, my name long lost in jargon, his words a weight
as heavy as the sodden woollen coat
I pulled too against the cold. But other times come, that day coated
in summer rain drops, and footsteps dancing, feet in flight.
And love slicing through the August heat, a heady, weight-
less passion that couldn’t be contained and eyes that leaked
all the lies, spilling like clothes from my overnight case.
I couldn’t squeeze them back once they’d parked
inside of you. I shuffle forwards now behind the crowd, park
myself against the conveyor, remove my coat
and fur-lined boots, clang what’s left of me beside my case.
Shifty eyes scan me like a threat about to board this flight.
But cancer is the terrorist and my illness leaks,
dries, and stains their futures. They hide their faces, weighted
down by all the words they cannot hold. I wait,
this moment, as we all will wait and park
my doubts, let only one last request leak
from my lips. I always wanted a coat
of flowers adorn my empty breast on this, my final flight.
And white lilies to disguise the stench I carry in this case.
©Jacqui Thatcher 2016
If you want to know more about this form of poetry, known as a sestina, have a look at the link A Formula for Writing Poetry.
Ok, so yes, I have taken a lot of liberties but for me the fact that I have finished such a difficult and challenging task is success in itself.
Fancy trying one? I would love to read yours so please feel free to send me the link to your post!
2 thoughts on “Stains from the travel weary”
Hi Jacqui! I just wanted to say that your poem moved me to tears. Having cared for my mum through her struggle with terminal cancer to the end, your words really resonated with my heart. I don’t think I’m familiar with this style and structure of poetry but it certainly struck a deep chord with me today. I feel inspired to continue with my writing! Thank you for sharing. Peace, love and light. Sarah
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Thank you, Sarah for your kind words. I am touched that my poem affected you so deeply. As far as the style of the poem, I am not hugely familiar with it myself and it began as an exercise at a writing club – second attempt at a poem in this style, so I was pleased that I was able to finish what I had started. And your comment makes my humble attempts doubly worthwhile. Always keep writing. With love Jacqui
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