Helen

There she stood at my garden gate,
Tall and slim with a sassy grin!
I’ve come to sit in the sun, she said
As she flat-footed her angled feet
between her hospital sticks to tread
adroitly among the daffodil bulbs,
(harbingers of a future spring) –
Negotiating the rutted curbs
of the paving slabs, to the seat.

A mug of tea? she said again,
enfolding bandaged-fingered stumps
around that universal brew.
We talked of things that mattered much,
Our mutual respect for learning,
Of students, theses, grants, and such;
And, yes, of muscle waste and pain,
The need to map her life anew,
And tap her feet to a distant strain.

Unexpected in every way,
Uninvited but oh so sought.
A miracle of skill and grit,
Adversity and suffering, fought
With boundless hope and yearning.
And I thought back to that sunny day
In the church of St Peter in Chains:
Bidden to think of a friend in need
I lit a candle to pray.