You were never keen on flowers.
Good money gone west you huffed
when you cleaned the Lady Chapel
at church, got down on your knees
and swept dead petals into the dustpan.
Admitted to psycho-geriatric
you asked me for Trebor mints, extra strong.
No bouquets brightened your window sill.
We stepped outside and circled islands
of scarlet and orange roses.
They blazed like beacons in the sun
but I don't think you saw a single bloom
as you perched on my arm, frail boned.
You were a tiny bird: tousle feathered,
broken winged, your voice an anguished chirp
and I wish I'd woven the nest you craved;
built a fragrant, storm-proof home with lilac,
lavender and shell-pink carnations
like those in your mother's garden.
I wish I'd plaited twigs and lamb fleece,
rosemary and forget-me-nots, milk-white
marguerites to match your name and sewed
a silk-soft lining of St. John's Wort
where you could have lain your aching head
and dreamed a sky of yellow stars.
Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working-class ‘50s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of UK magazines and webzines. Last year she self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad, who died when she was fourteen.