Al Purdy

Poem by Al Purdy

You are ill and so I lead you away
and put you to bed in the dark room
-you lie breathing softly and I hold your hand
feeling the fingertips relax as sleep comes

You will not sleep more that a few hours
and the illness is less serious than my anger or cruelty
and the dark bedroom is like a foretaste of other darknesses
to come later which all of us must endure alone
but here I am permitted to be with you

After a while in sleep your fingers clutch tightly
and I know that whatever may be happening
the fear coiled in dream or the bright trespass of pain
there is nother at all I can do except hold your hand
and not go away.

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