Pete cuts my bread roll
butters it, and
spreads the marmalade.
I expect you’re not supposed to do this, I say.
No, but... I think
If it was me
I would want someone to do it for me.
My eyes fill,
tears run down my face,
and drip onto my plate.
Pete looks so anxious - that I lie
I’m fine, I say
It’s just the pain in my arm.
He moves on to the next bed.
I cried - because
this man I do not know
was kind to me.
My Weetabix comes in a plastic bowl,
the yellow wrapper bright and shiny.
Brenda unwraps it for me.
I went to town on Friday, she confides,
and bought some new boots.
Milk is sloshed onto the Weetabix
islands marooned in a white sea.
They’re brown suede
and have lovely stitching ‘round the top.
Got them cheap I did ‘cos they were last year’s style,
they couldn’t sell them - too tight they were on people’s calves.
I’ve got lovely slim calves, she says
raising the hem of her uniform to show me.
They’ve got furry lining
so I won’t have to wear tights with them.
I start spooning my cereal - now sloppy
in its white disposable bowl.
Tea or coffee? Brenda asks me
wielding the giant teapot over the cups
Tea, I say.
Half price they were, she continues, a real bargain.
She looks pleased.
Brenda stirs my tea for me,
and places it in reach
You’re trouble you are, she says - and winks.
She moves her trolley on to the next bed
Tea or coffee?
© Sylvia Perry
From A Kindness, published by Poetry Space Ltd in 2013