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This Woman,

His Wife

John D 


John D Robinson was born in 63 in the UK; he began writing poetry at aged 16 and many of his poems have appeared in the small press; most recent work has appeared in Bareback Lit, Red Fez, The Kitchen Poet, Pulsar, The Chicago Record, The Commonline Journal, Dead Snakes and upcoming wotk will appear in Clockwise Cat and Your One Phone Call; he is married with one daughter, two grandchildren, four cats, one dog and enjoys drinking wine.

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That soft and sad familiar sound began to reach and fill his ears. He was standing over the kitchen table peeling some potatoes. For a little while he listened and hoped that the sound would stop. But he knew that it would not stop. He placed the peeler and the vegetables upon the table and stepped the few paces over to the lounge door; it was slightly ajar, looking in through the narrow gap he could see her. She was sat in a chair; her head bent forward, her thin bony hands gently clasping her face in an effort to conceal her quiet crying. He thought of calling out to her, to tell her that there was nothing to worry about, that he was here, as he always was, he was here and everything was okay. But he did not call out, he turned around and moved back to the kitchen table and continued to prepare the evening meal.


Over recent months listening to the radio had become a great source of comfort and in truth a subtle distraction from the everyday sadness that had slowly become his world. Late into the evenings he would sit beside his wife and tell her of the day’s news and events, of the plays and stories that he had listened to as he worked in the kitchen. She would remain still and silent and occasionally she would smile or nod her head. They would hold hands in the quietness as the evening grew darker and thicker around them.


He moved over to the gas cooker and put the saucepans of vegetables upon the burning rings; he then knelt down and checked the meat in the oven. The kitchen clock chimed six o’clock; it was time to make his wife a hot drink, a milky coffee with a small shot of whiskey. She would have heard the chiming clock and would begin preparing herself. Looking at him as he entered, he would be talking, word after word; he would then pause and smile at her and then hand the drink to her. She would take the cup from his hands in a slow and painful movement and as she did so she would look up into her husband’s face and see as always, his tenderness, his love for her.

Now he walked into the lounge, the steam rose from the cup in his hand and filled his nostrils with the smell of hot whiskey.


He looked to see his wife staring silently back at him and he began talking. “Here’s your drink my sweet. Take it easy, and be careful, it’s very hot” He said this every night. “Dinner won’t be long” he said as he always did and then as she took the cup he knelt down beside her and softly pushed his fingers through her thin grey hair. She sipped at the drink. He said, “I’ll be going shopping tomorrow, I just hope the rains keep away. I won’t be too long, I know what we need. I’ve made a list and I’ll get a taxi back”.


She sat quietly and drank. The winter evening had moved in quickly and the room had darkened. He rose to his feet and walked around the side of the table and switched on a small lamp. She flinched as the light hit her face and turned away for a few moments. The cup was empty now and he gently took it from her hands, he placed the cup upon the table and took her hands into his and held them for a few minutes. Her hands felt cold and for a few moments he massaged them, softly whispering to her a poem that he had written for her some forty years ago. She smiled as he recited the words she knew so well; afterwards he made his way back into the kitchen.


He stood at the kitchen sink gazing into the darkness of the back garden, allowing his mind to wander and he thought of prayers; he had made any number of prayers over the recent months. Prayers had become important, a part of his everyday, they were a solace and a belief that gave him the strength to look the world in the eye every passing moment since that day at the hospital. That day being eight months ago, that day that relives itself everyday in his heart and head.


He recalled the faces of the five others in the hospital waiting room, two couples and an elderly man. He thought of them now and wondered of their lives and how they too may have changed beyond recognition; but he had no way of ever knowing. And the nurse that brought him a hot and sweet cup of tea; he could never forget her; her gentleness and sincerity, her friendly and pretty face. He had sat in the silent waiting room looking idly around the room trying desperately to fill his head with mundane thoughts, but it proved hopeless, occasionally he would exchange a glance with one of the strangers, it would feel awkward, almost painful and then a doctor entered the room and said “Mr Wilson, Mr Jim. Wilson?” Jim rose to his feet, staring at the doctor. “Come with me please Mr Wilson”.


Jim followed the doctor into a small side room; the nurse who had brought the tea was waiting in the room and offered Jim a chair as he entered. He sat rigid and scared, frightened of the words that the doctor was about to say. He had dreaded this moment for a long while and now it was here and he could do nothing about it. The doctor sat opposite him across a table. He was a young man, perhaps in his early thirties. He had a voice that was deep and soft. Jim stared at the doctor and did not hear a word he was saying and it was several moments later that Jim realised that the doctor was no longer speaking and that the nurse was now crouched by his side, one of her arms draped along his shoulders. 


“I’m very sorry Mr Wilson, there really is nothing more we can do” Jim heard the doctor say.

“Does she know?” Jim asked.

“Yes, she knows. It’s for the best” the doctor replied.

“How long?” asked Jim.

The doctor let go a soft cough and cleared his throat before he said “It’s very difficult to say because of the complexity of the illness, but perhaps, a year”


Outside of the hospital they held hands as they waited for their taxi to arrive. He looked at her, he wanted to look at her, he wanted, right there and then, to pick her up in his arms and to lift her high up into the air, this woman, his wife, this person he loved so much. He kissed her upon her cheek and locked his arms tightly around her waist; he wanted to cry, but he did not cry, he could not for her sake. “It’s alright my love” she whispered to him.

The taxi arrived and took them home.


He turned away from the window and checked the meat in the oven, dinner would be ready soon. Back over at the doorway he looked over at her; she was still and quiet and peaceful. He walked into the room and fetched some blankets from the cupboard and then gently placed them around her. She looked up into his eyes and smiled. He winked at her as he had done so for forty years, it said the words that could not be found; it meant something in a simple way; it meant something in a special way to the both of them.


“It’s been a good day hasn’t it Jim?” she said breathlessly.

He smiled and nodded his head before returning into the kitchen to dish up the evening meal, “Yes, he murmured to himself, Yes it has”











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