For my bereavement collection – Mug Without a Handle, Life after loss of a long-term partner (53 poems) – see buythebook section of this website.

Tough Game

Did you play Jokari
when you were young?
That solid rubber ball
tethered to a heavy wooden block
by fine, long elastic.

Five, ten, even twenty hits
with my thick wooden bat.
Energy diminishing,
the landings came closer,
till I could run and swing no more,
ball resting limply at my tired feet.

My husband,
and his team of expert medics, homeopath,
played long and hard with his cancer,
endlessly batting it away and away.

The elastic was strong.

He, finally, was not.


Difficult Day

Car doors banged.

They walked towards me,
full of love and comforting words.

No, no talk of my husband today.

This is my mother’s day.
His funeral still in the planning.

I walked with them,
old friends of hers, and mine, and his,
towards the church she loved,
full of family and friends.

Beautiful service.
I stood in the pulpit,
the first ever time.

The eulogy went well.

Only one more to go.



In sleep our deepest companionship.

No words

No will

No effort.

A reminder of our wombtime,
bodies at ease,
fitting snugly.
The comfort of your breath,
your solid warmth,
for unwanted dark wakings.

In the quiet rhythm of our together living,
ordinary nights of gentle closeness
nourished, recharged me.

It took five years after you died,
and a new man occasionally beside me,
to wonder.

Did the loss of our nights
impact more than
the glaring emptiness
of my widow days?


They Have to Go

Gradually they all go,
his beautiful possessions,
into which he poured his love.

A vintage enthusiast pampers his rebuilt Norton,
a young doctor plays his Bechstein piano,
people enjoy the spaces he designed,
his immaculate drawings no longer needed.

I continue to sort and clear,
however much it hurts.

His shed, the house,
children, grandchildren, me,
we carry his imprint for ever.

And I want the space.