Saturday 18 June 2022

'After Dad Goes into Care' by Judy Darley

A jigsaw piece waits behind the dented teapot, jacketed in a blue, white, cream scrap of cloud. I spot it as I enter the kitchen, just as Mum clambers onto a stool.

“Mum! Let me.”

She rolls her eyes; instructs me to retrieve a tin.

The fruitcake inside exudes cinnamon and zest.

“I baked it last November,” she says. “Should be perfect now. Not everything weakens with age.”

I cut a slab for each of us while the kettle boils.

My sister believes we must do more, but I’ve yet to learn how to help someone who insists they’re fine.

I spoon in Lapsang Souchong leaves; inhale damp woodland evenings.

At the teal-painted table, Mum puzzles on.

I retrieve the cumulus corner and place it beside her cup of tea.

Smile-lines deepen. “Ahh, that’s exactly what I was missing.”

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