We are sorting her chest of drawers—
This for me, This for you, This was so much hers—
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’
We are meeting the jaunty lawyer
And signing his forms and discussing the weather.
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

She used to play cards at this table,
Now it’s covered with cake-crumbs after the funeral.
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’
We wash cups in the broken sink
And it’s time to go and she rings me. ‘I think
I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

And now it’s winter and snow,
She’s no light, she’s no heat, she is ill, did I know
She’ll never have a friend like that again?
She spent Christmas with cousins, she died there.
I cannot remember her face, but I hear
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

by Ruth Silcock

from Biographies etc.
Anvil, 2006
Copyright © Ruth Silcock 2006

This is from Ruth Silcock’s third collection. She brings a sharp yet compassionate eye for the oddities of human behaviour to her poems about the extraordinary lives and deaths of ‘ordinary’ people: children, senior citizens in residential homes, doctors, orphans, nurses, grannies, social workers at a dance. A lifetime’s accumulated wisdom, and the experience gained during her career as a social worker, enrich these cheerful poems that frequently address uncheerful subjects such as ageing and death.

Born in Manchester in 1926, Ruth Silcock studied at Girton College, Cambridge before devoting herself to social work. She has written several children’s books. Anvil has published her previous collections, Mrs. Carmichael (1987) and A Wonderful View of the Sea (1996).

Anvil Press Poetry was founded in 1968 and publishes English-language poetry and poetry in translation, both classic and modern.