Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Diagnosis


‘Why do you stay by the window, Jill,
Why do you stand and stare?
There’s nothing to see but the sentinels,
The names of the dead out there.
There’s more to life than the cemetery
That ranges over the hill,
I’ll close the shutters and pull the blinds
If the sight disturbs you, Jill! ’

She sighed and turned then, back to the room
But she wouldn’t meet my eye,
She’d been morose since the last full Moon
But wouldn’t be telling me why,
I thought it might be our child that bloomed
And blossomed under her gown,
But every time that I questioned her
She’d put me off with a frown.

She’d been along to the doctor’s, and
Since then, she hadn’t smiled,
I asked her, ‘What has he told you, then,
Is something wrong with the child? ’
She shook her head and she told me, ‘No! ’
But she wouldn’t meet my gaze,
She was always a terrible liar,
Women lie in a number of ways.

I caught her scribbling out her Will
On a parchment page, or two,
I said, ‘Why now? ’ And she looked at me,
‘I needed something to do!
I thought it time that we wrote them out,
It wouldn’t hurt you as well,
We have to think of the baby now
As my belly begins to swell.’

I sat beside her and wrote it out
If only to calm her down,
She seemed so close to the edge of tears
That I wrote of the love we’d found,
And all I had would belong to her
Who’d saved me from the abyss,
She’d turned this drunken head around
And given a life of bliss.

She squeezed my hand as I signed my name
And the tears rolled down her cheeks,
Her hormones must have been pulling her down,
She’d be like this for weeks,
‘You’ll feel all right when the baby’s born,
We’ll sit in the sun, outside,
And get some colour into your cheeks, ’
But Jill broke down, and cried.

A week went by, I was far from well
So she made me stay in bed,
‘I’m going down with a flu of sorts,
I feel so thick in the head.’
She brought me soup and she tended me
Like a mother hen with a chick,
She cried a lot and she lied a lot
While I lay there, feeling sick.

I staggered out of my bed one day
And stood, looked over the hill,
The snow had feathered the headstones white
I shivered there in the chill,
She came, was standing beside me, then
Reached down, and felt for my hand,
‘You know I’ll love you forever, Ben,
There won’t be another man.’

I looked at her in alarm, I thought
She might be going away,
‘What did the doctor diagnose
On that distant day, in May? ’
‘I knew it would have to come to this,
He gave me results, it’s true,
Though not of the tests he did on me,
But the ones that he did on you! ’

I write this on the side of the bed
For I find it hard to stand,
My heart is feeble, my body weak
With its cargo of contraband,
But still Jill stands by the window there
And she weeps, and bows her head,
I say, ‘Why stare at the sentinels,
Engraved with the names of the dead? ’

3 March 2014

Submitted: Monday, March 03, 2014
Edited: Monday, March 03, 2014

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