POEM: 9 a.m.

BY ISOBEL DIXON

I thought perhaps because you’d made it through the dawn,
on the transparent buoyancy of oxygen,
the dark contraption’s soothing hum,
called back by the clatter of arrival, 2 a.m.,
not quite the Cavalry, but Family
(for you always the greatest saving grace,
reason for thrift and watching out,
reason for knitting, baking, family trees and Christmases,
for the always-onward effort, Life);
because you were there when we coasted into town
towards the Church, turned left before,
and pulled up at your door, our door.
Because you were still there.

(See, we came, as we did before,
and always said we would, for you—
I wonder if you doubted that.)

And I thought perhaps because of steady hands
at home, because the faraway had also come for you,
you breathed a little easier, your skin
less waxen than the WhatsApp update showed;
perhaps because of that you’d choose
to tough it out again, true grit, a bloody-minded Chinn.
I breathed a little easier as well, and slept a bit,
till 5 a.m. beside you, Daddy’s place.
His hour passed, I thought perhaps you’d come back
from the brink, even found an appetite
for here and now (this 8 a.m.)—

two cups of custard from a sweet syringe.
(Mommy, I would have stayed for days
and cooked for you each soft, delicious, milky thing.)
I thought perhaps you’d yet again resolved
to stick it out, outfox us all.

And yet, so swift —a feint, a jink, that racing heart,
the heat, the rasp—
a silence that dawned late on me,
and you outfox me still.

RIP Ann Rosemary Murton Dixon née Chinn
19 May 1930–16 May 2015

9 a.m. was first published in The Leonids (Mariscat) which launches in Oudtshoorn on the 14th September and Graaff-Reinet on the 17th September.

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