Winifred Is Dead

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
I used to work in a nursing home. It was horrible. People came, people went, one way or another. It was no life for them and no death either.

Submitted: June 03, 2013

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Submitted: June 03, 2013



Winifred is dead!

They said.

Winifred is dead!

The last thing she did

Was sleep well;

‘Sleeping well,’ it read,

On the three a.m. check.

It wasn’t until eight,

When Molly went to

Shake her awake,

And she couldn’t,

That they realised

Winifred had died.


Let us not spread alarm,

But keep calm,

Quietly say

That Winifred

Passed away,

Last night,

In her sleep,

Without a shudder,


Or peep.

Document the time and place,

The name of the last one

Who saw her face;

The GP who declared,

With consummate skill and

Seasoned flare,

That she was now no more

Than a shake of his head.


Just dead.


Lay her out,

One last wash,

A comb of the hair,

Quick change of underwear;

Stand aside,

Just beyond the door,

While relatives bleed by,

Fumbling through draws,

Wondering why

There isn’t more

To take away

From this gilded cage.

And, secretly, though they deny,

There are magpie thoughts

Of the inheritance,

Slowly mined,

By Winifred’s leisurely decline.


With two Asda carriers,

(Bags For Life),

They take the remnants away,

Noted down by the nurse,

On paper that came

From some cheap stationery place,

But is still

A legal record of what

Has gone today,

Just in case

They come back

To make a claim

For a non-existent

Gold rope-chain.



In black block stone,

Is all she had

Left to show:

Some slippers,

Some slacks,

Scuffed old shoes,

An open pack

Of corn plasters,

A cardigan, some blouses,

A paperback about

Mining disasters,

Some tights,

Some Horlicks light,

(Didn’t you know

She loved that at night?)

Spare glasses,

Spare teeth,

Some used lipstick,

A handkerchief,

A black and white picture

Of some girls and boys

And one pound fifty

In assorted coins.


The Co-op

Will make a stop

To pop

Her in the boot,

Like stolen loot,

And take her quietly away.


It would soon become known,

Around the home,

Just by a glance

At the empty throne,

That the queen was dead,

That a vacancy has arisen

For her still-warm bed;

Her chair at table,

Now unoccupied,

Her adapted fork and knife

As vacant as her seat,

Waiting to enable

Some other feeble set of hands

To eat.


In a couple of weeks

Someone will see her ghost

Glide along the halls,

At exactly the moment that she went

(Somewhere between three and eight, they guess).

She will have joined the floating hoards

Whose names are absorbed

By the peeling paint

And dirty dado rails

That line the walls

As she once did.


Winifred lives no more.

© Copyright 2017 Chris Bradbury. All rights reserved.

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