Patient – a poem by Annie Kissack

Patient


I watched the saints in their Sunday windows;
they never moved, even St Christopher
striding the foaming river with the anxious infant,
but they let such light in, made you think.
And now I’m watching you, immobile too,
your eyes upon the flickering picture:
hours of seedy property shows, no illumination.
And still I’m watching you emerge to dare the stairs,
stop every third and then, tired out,
arrive, subside into your meal,
well tried, now back to bed.
I think if this was me, I couldn’t bear it.


Ten years gone, and though that title’s taken,
you have become the pale saint of patience,
paraded through the world
on high days and holy days only,
acknowledged briefly then laid down
faint and under wraps for another season.
But you are flesh and blood, not glass or alabaster
or the strange cross-products of my Catholic imaginings.
Pain frays the edges of your daily blanket;
you are trapped in the slow breathing
of the empty spaces at the back of churches.
No saints. No miracle.


And yet I like to think you keep quite safe
a tiny shard of jewelled glass from a church window.
It lies tight-tucked beneath your pillow;
released, it ricochets the light
in turquoise speckles round the ceiling.
One day you’ll go to Africa 
on your own strong, freckled legs;
in your backpack there will be a sketchbook and a novel.
You will write tunes and carry unexpected burdens,
love the world again and do some good.
I like to think this happens soon;
please may it happen soon.



Annie Kissack is a teacher from the Isle of Man. A fluent speaker of Manx Gaelic, she enjoys singing and writing music for her choir, but only began writing poetry in the last few years, becoming the Fifth Manx Bard in 2018. facebook @anniekissackpoetry

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