I prise a pen into your one good hand,
though even this is now a chilly claw
incapable of grip; its only strength
the sudden spasm, unpredictable,
whose fierceness drives your nails into your palm.
You cannot make your fingers understand
your mind’s intent, and all those years of school
are come to this; a faint and painful scrawl.
Yet you insist on dotting every i,
and scratch out tired kisses, bleeding ink,
beneath your message in the birthday card:
My darling Michael, all my thanks and love,
Hazel xxx. I will not cry;
we both know you can’t do this, but you try.