Death dropped its guillotine on my sister.

She wouldn’t have seen it coming – she’s blind.

Was blind: I haven’t got used to the tense.

I confuse those still living with those past.

What gets me through the evenings is drink.

Ironic, that, since drink is what killed her.


I’m guessing it’s unlikely you met her.

We were close, I think, though I’ve no other sister

To compare. Small, curly-haired, fond of a drink,

She was, by the end, officially blind:

A woman so bright that nothing got past

Her could see only when the light was intense,


Which made every excursion a tense

Affair, for others as well as for her,

Her hand clutching your arm as you steered her past

Banana skins and cracks. But my sister

Was tough, didn’t whinge about being blind,

Was cheery and stoical until drink


Took over, when all she’d want was more drink,

Cheap wine mostly, not just to feel less tense

But to black out the knowledge she was blind

Then fall asleep till nothing could stir her.

There she’d be, out like a light, my poor kid sister,

Immune to her children (though she loved them past


Words), overwhelmed by a habit passed

Down through the genes. I too like a drink,

You see, we’ve that in common, my sister

And me, a weakness for booze, I make no pretence

About it, in a way I’m weaker than her

Since I’ve no excuse, it’s not like I’m blind


And needing solace, whereas she went half-blind

When her kids were small… All that’s in the past

And if ever I get angry and blame her

For deserting us I tell myself that drink

Gave her no choice: the need grew too intense

And night dropped its guillotine on my sister.


Because of drink she’s in the wrong tense.

I had a sister, who was stoic and blind.

Now she’s past and I write poems for her.