When I saw your blank eyes
and your face so terrible and thin,
I thought of a night with no mercy,
I thought of a new form of life that only
the slowly dying can know, that tortures
the wearer like having no exit from a haunted house.
I thought how quickly my father died without
the tight throat and mindless whispers, and of you,
long ago with your blue eyes, clear and independent,
swimming with the wonder of discovery.
I remember your walk -- giant, focused -- that now
with only one leg, you will never know again.
I thought of those nights spent watching your hands
bring strength and comfort to the clay
like they would to a lost child.
Now I praise you with your frustrated hands
trembling, searching for your mother tongue.
I praise you with the blankets pulled off
your dying limbs, forgetting my name
and the reason why I love you -- you,
always so brave and individual now like a hymn
torn away from the nadir of its voice, away from
the zenith of its song.
Elizabeth Fraser Williamson.in 1981