The old man in my bed

ANDY EYCOTT

Taken by surprise
as I lay in bed, dozing,
I touch an old man’s head,
fingers falling through reeds
into a pond. I wipe away the sleep.

His cheek soft, wrinkles to my touch
a fruit past its prime,
slow deflating balloon.

How did this old man come to be
in my bed?
His failing crop
alien to my touch;
decimated rain forest.

I remember now
seeing the old man
in the living room mirror
caught him in a sideways glance.

He didn’t register as anyone I knew,
yet here he was
in my bed.
My fingers run lightly

over his parched brow tense,
line after line his forehead reveals
his furrowed history.

I rub gentle circles around his temples.
I feel relief,

he coughs, I choke,

he yawns, my ears pop,

he hooks his spectacles into place,
my world comes into focus,

then I realise,
my God!

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‘The old man in my bed’ by Andy Eycott received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.
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