Little brown mouse
on the driveway
feet curled close
pink tail out behind.
School bag by the step.
Sad little figure
in young Chloe’s hand
crossing the lawn.
Buried in lush greenery
of wandering jew
under the corner trees.
“Come on !” called Mummy,
“It’s nearly time for the bell !”
“I’m keeping the mouse
safe from the cat !”
Too late to save the mouse
but no time to argue.
With Chloe buckled up
in the car beside her bag
they reach school before the bell,
wash hands after the bell.
Now on to kindergarten
The one level block of flats
spreads along side a narrow
lawn bordering the footpath.
Each flat’s front door joins
the footpath along thin concrete
strips bisecting the lawn.
Each little cell is walled off
from its fellows in the block.
Together yet apart.
The newspaper photo showed
its silent lawn and front doors
with no one in sight. Underneath
the report said an old lady
had died in one of those flats,
lain dead on her floor three days.
No one had missed her, only
a neighbour up the road who
spoke briefly with her each day
as she passed on her way
to the shops.They would greet
each other, discuss the neighbour’s
work in her front garden, but
never exchanged names.
The neighbour worried for
three mornings when she did
not come by, then rang the
police who found the old lady
dead on the floor of her flat.
Solo in death as in life.
Seemingly sitting in her living room
forever, she saw daily the sofa and
armchairs in their worn floral coats
the mirror in its brassy frame rubbed
up weekly by the home help from
social services.Unable to even
shower on her own, her failing body
jailed her in her own home.
Her daughters and granddaughters
visited, sometimes moving her in
her walker into the conservatory
where she stared out into the
street from her big old chair
waving to passing neighbours.
She envied her husband his mobility
scooter freedom but was thankful for
his company. He knew her feelings,
one day helping her, puffing and
gasping, on to his scooter, as her
lumbering body sagged its weight
on to the scooter’s chair.
Triumphantly she rode down the ramp
to their driveway, down to the street
as he stumbled haphazardly after her
on the walking frame. Excitedly she
looked up and down the street.
Sheer exhilaration ! Her Everest
remembered from months ago.
Now her body’s painful objections
stabbed through her. She gasped, leant
back in the chair, then turned at last
back up her driveway, into her home,
into her living room cell.
Her last outing.