The morning sun is shining in the farmyard. It’s warm on my back as I sit contemplating your absence. But despite its heat my insides are cold and empty. My heart swings from its stays, a heavy pendulum counting the days until your return. I must convince myself that day will come, though the doctors have warned me to expect the worst. I convince you too – when I sit by your hospital bed – your work-toiled hand, motionless in mine. The doctors say you can hear, so I talk to you incessantly even after I leave you in their care. I've got my boots, the duster and polish. And if you were here you would be telling me off for sitting in my stocking feet - my tiptoes in the gravel. My cup of tea is going cold beside me. I can’t make it like you. Too much milk I think – I don’t have that same sleight of hand. You always told me off for that too. Far too much polish on those boots – a terrible waste, you would say. But you always patted my shoulder as you went back to your own chores. Your bite was that of a pup – and I have been blessed for many a man has had to sleep with a Rottweiler. I can’t cook like you either – my shrinking waistline tells me that. I've made a belt out of some twine I found in the barn. It chaffs my waist, another sore reminder that you are absent. Mary from the neighbouring farm has brought some broth – but I have no stomach for it. Broth’s for sharing, with chunks of your soft, farmhouse loaf, the butter churned by your own fair hand. The wind is fresh this morning. It’s blowing the trees in the copse, terrible it is – the leaves dancing to its tune. If you were here you would've been hanging out the washing, pegging out the sheets between the two broad oaks, and all the while singing your own tune, in that soft Irish lilt of yours. You were happy in your work – never complaining all these long years despite - its heavy load. I like to remember your skirts bustling around the yard, seeing to the chickens, seeing to the kids, seeing to the farm hands, and most of all - seeing to me. I never made it easy – you used to scold. But I'm a plodder lass – there’s never been hurry in my bones. The yard is scurrying with activity this morning. The cat’s had her kittens – six of them - and the geese are hissing proud. And Nip, well he’s running wild lass. But despite all of it – the yard misses you. That’s why I'm polishing my love. Smearing my boots in the thick black paste – then bulling them until I can see my sad and crumpled face reflected in their shine. The smell is strong – it’s the smell of normality.