great uncle jo’s room
in the hospice looks
like a flower meadow

he used to love gardening
so we brought him lots of little pots
of hyacinths and daffodils

we dug them up from
his allotment very carefully
and cycled them over

he says they are good
company not just because of the cheerful colours
but also because all plants know about dying

he says they whisper
secrets to him at night
that make him feel less afraid

one room along there is a quiet old lady
who never gets visitors and stares
at the ceiling a lot

her room is bare and her face
is all wrinkly but her eyes are lily ponds the same
shape and colour as mine

I want to give her something
so I make her a drawing
of an opening portal

behind it are planets and stars
and a spaceship steered by small red dogs
silver penguins and golden kittens

(I don’t know what kinds of
animals she likes best so I
was mostly guessing)

when I blue-tack it to the ceiling
so that she can see it
she smiles a clear little tear



Laura Theis grew up in a place in Germany where the streets were all named after fairy tales. She started inventing songs and stories and poems when she was four years old. Now she lives in Oxford by the river with her scruffy little black dog Wodehouse. She likes staying up late, hammocks, eating cherries and banana splits, and her favourite colour is the darkest blue of the sky just before it gets dark.