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Giles Dawnay, GP trainee

That’s just not my mum,

he whispers, soft dark eyes

looking ahead and behind

into another time and space.

Outside the trees stand bare,

skeletal fingers gracefully twist,

spiral and dance to a naked sky.

A small crinkle of leaves at their roots.

She sits, eyes closed, resting

as an oxygen mask rasps its gifts

into her failing lungs.

A hard crag sits above her nipple.

The land softens and muddies

with the falling of the rain,

the baked hardness of summer gone

and the world less sure underfoot.

It’s funny, he offers, I normally help

tidy their houses after they’ve gone,

being an estate agent and all.

Before his words fade back to silence.

Pale sunshine lights up the day,

branches clack and click with

the passing of the breeze, winter

wears a different coat to summer.

She did love a cigarette, he exhales,

breathing into a tangled web of feeling.

The elements pitter-patter gently on the window,

singing softly the advent of another season.


'Seasons' was inspired by a conversation with the son of a patient that I was treated in Resus, A&E. She had come in with very bad pneumonia on a background of advanced Breast cancer. We stood together at the end of the bed while his mother was sitting up with her oxygen mask on. He turned to me and said, 'that's just not my mum.' This line really struck me and became the first line of the poem.

I wanted to explore a number of issues. the first being how hard and shocking it is for relatives to see the frail and ill version of the person they have loved their whole life in front of them. Yet juxtaposed to this I wanted to explore the idea that we as humans are as seasonal as the natural world around us. There is a constant cycle of life, death and new life, and we too are part of that. Death is always deeply painful, but it is also an intrinsic natural process. Life goes on, a truth which is both hopeful yet also agonizing.

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