A Poem by David Gilbert on Valentine’s Day

All Along

Love does what love does best –
keeps itself going in the background

for when it’s needed.
Old Mr Reliable.

Like our black-and-white telly, late afternoons,
the simmering casserole

or my grandfather mumbling prayers
we couldn’t hear, let alone understand

or a child’s bedside light left on. Apollo,
the budgerigar, chuckling into his mirror.

His little bell. My special box
of Caran d’Ache pencils for when I’m ready

to colour in. Look, on the bathroom sill,
that wooden bowl of shells

collected from dozens of scattered shorelines,
its outline only slowly beginning, in the dawn,

to make any sense at all. Or the cat just now,
that I hadn’t noticed

back indoors, springing onto my lap.
Now, as one thought spreads

into the air and into each bone, seemingly
intractable (you can’t go on), another calls:

See the wild horses on the hill?
The wild horses are on the hill.

They’ve been waiting all along.


David Gilbert is Writer in Residence at The Bethlem Gallery, author of ‘The Patient Revolution – how we can heal healthcare’ and ‘The Rare Bird Recovery Protocol’ (poetry collection).


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