Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
Member Login

Member login

No account? JOIN US

First Time Out

by Nicky Phillips

The haphazard paving stones to the gateway
are the first challenge, then the gate itself,
so narrow I have to take three goes at it,
frightened of catching your bony elbows.
You sit as upright as the tumour on your spine
allows, strained white hands gripping the arms.
I push behind, warped with concentration;
a drench of sweat forms across my forehead.

We go up Duck Lane, stop by the pond
where, only a decade ago, our toddlers
threw sandwich crusts to the ducklings.
As we rest, I study the hair on the nape
of your neck, the way you hold your head.
I try to gauge your expression, fight back
images of swimming galas, school sports,
you representing the county at netball.

We tackle kerbs with agonising slowness,
such is my fear of exacerbating your pain.
The worst is when we’re nearly back and
meet a friend. She crosses to the other side,
has no courage nor right words to speak.
You pretend you don't notice but we both
know you do. You laugh when we reach
home, say I am the one struggling.

Back to top