We drove towards the River Dee – down walled lanes
with rhododendrons festooning the sandstone,
their attic blooms in imperial colours –
to visit a doughty friend convalescing,
from two knee replacements, in Seize The Day,
a recently opened upmarket care home.
As we turned into the drive, I realised
that this, long before rebuilding, was where
my mother had first trained to be a nurse –
sixteen, with her friend, Belle. They cared for children
with TB from the Liverpool slums.
This unpolluted estuary’s airs
and the views of distant Welsh hilltops
through the coast’s pine woodlands might soothe and cure.
Our friend was listening to La Traviata.
I recalled a photo of the two girls smiling,
in uniform, on a veranda
with two of their charges on iron bedsteads.
The children stare at the camera
as if it were their only photograph.