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Staying On

“You need to move from here. You cannot stay

Another winter in this place alone.

There’s rising damp,” they frown with fresh dismay,

The kindly faces of concern she’s known

And grown to dread – the voices that she fears

Will tear her from her living walls of stone,

Will take away the past where still she hears

His voice that echoes from the weathered beams,

His steps that falter down the steepening years.

“It won’t be all the trauma that it seems

To move,” they say. “You’ll soon adapt in time

And you’ll have all mod cons and safety schemes.”

She thinks back to their warnings then of crime,

Their claim her house is too remote and old

With hazards to her health from grime and slime.

Yet close on eighty years she’s kept a hold

On life in  spite of burglars, germs, the strain

Of joints, of jagged flagstones, damp and cold.

She cannot now give up what may remain –

The swallows that return each year to weave

Beneath her eaves, the fox that comes for grain,

The willow curving round her need to grieve.