Each day the visit with clean clothes;
only the unloved wear hospital gowns,
shedding their identity, disposably dressed.
Here is the T-shirt you bought in New Orleans,
another from Mexico after we climbed
the Pyramid of the Sun. Ben Franklin’s
wit on God and Beer blazoned on this one.
Each afternoon the departure with dirty clothes
plastic bagged; the pyjamas victim of
night-time urine bottle disasters, T-shirts
marked with the slime of cottage pie.
Each night the washing machine runs
in an empty flat, my own sheets untouched
by your sweat or skin cream, bed shared
only by an opportunist cat, seizing your space.
Dressing you for your last performances,
the run ending soon.
Ruth Aylett teaches and researches computing in Edinburgh. She has published nearly 90 poems in a variety of magazines – including Prole, The North, Antiphon, Agenda, Envoi, Southbank Poetry – and a large number of anthologies, most recently Scotia Exremis (Luath), and Pale Fire, New Poetry on the Moon (Frogmore Press). You can find out more at http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html