Fiona Ritchie Walker

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After Diagnosis
Three months and all the ‘me’ words gone,
career, ambition, choice.
The ‘we’ times changed forever
the day we heard them say ‘terminal’.
There’s a new meaning to the word ‘care’.
We wear smiles as often as we can,
not brave, just knowing each day
can’t be wasted. Tick. Tick.
Our specialist subjects become
oxygen, exacerbation, wheelchair.
Favourite places are barred
by heavy doors, elaborate stairs.
The world shrinks. All the foreign coins
in holiday pockets and bags
lose their worth. We travel slowly
within a shrinking radius.
notice blackbirds and pigeons,
frog spawn. We cook onions
from neighbours’ allotments.
In the cinema we hold hands. 

This poem took first prize in the Carers UK Creative Writing Competition and is now the title poem of the poetry sequence available from House of Three.

Read Carers UK feature here

One Concession and Child
He inflates her armbands, gentle as a kiss,
not like his blood pressure tests on Fridays.
Her arms are pink chipolatas,
he has to stop himself from squeezing them.

She sits on the tiles, claps her hands,
throws herself towards the blue, knowing
he will catch her, skim feet across the ripples.
He watches her pick up the yellow watering can,
hold it above his head, always acts surprised.
Your face is raining Grandad!

His eyes flow, hidden in the chlorine water,
until he blinks himself back to the present
where she's wearing her grandmother’s smile.

As one of the winners in the Poetry on the Move 2017 competition, this poem spent the summer in Guernsey, on a banner at the airport and on one of the island buses.