Writings and Witterings

He Sits and Waits


I went with Lucy to the Poetry Workshop with Sally J. Blackmore it was great fun and we met some ace poets.  Sally wrote to say that this form, the Kyrielle [full description at base of post], was being worked on by some poets from last week’s Workshop.  So I tried my hand at it. It brought to mind an elderly gentleman in a nursing home, he had a form of dementia, and I couldn’t help but wonder what that must be like. He looked like a small child, a small bewildered child, that same aura of innocence, naiveté.  Almost inevitably, following the workshop, it became clear that a little more work was needed, so this is attempt number two at a Kyrielle.

He Sits and Waits

He sits and waits, he is hungry.
He ponders what he was thinking,
For a moment, a rare inkling.
Do all things end as they begin?

The hanky from the laundry room,
His daughter, bound to be here soon.
His eyes tear up and he reaches,
Do all things end as they begin?

He ponders what he was thinking,
Just one moment ago, sinking …
I am hungry, he thinks, then smiles.
Do some things finish up in style?

He waits, he sits, he is hungry,
Food appears, it’s here, it’s too soon,
It’s before him, from where, from whom?
Do all things end as they begin?

He blinks, looks for a fork, a spoon.
He peers beneath the platter, croons,
He sees it, a new full blue moon.
Do all things end as they begin?

But arm does not go where he wants,
And hand will not go where he wants,
When he tells it to grip the spoon.
Do things end? Yes, they’ve left the room.

He is hungry, sits with repast,
‘Lord have mercy, I could eat fast,
If only I could grip and grasp.’
Do all things end as they begin?

It smells here, he sniffs and snivels.
‘Help Lord have mercy,’ he dribbles.
Anytime now – surely – to eat.
Do all things end as they begin?

Wet blue glance just reaches once more,
The white handkerchief laundered for,
Who was it? A girl. Girl no more.
All things end, which must be the score.

The spoon is it where it ought’er?
Something about food, his daughter.
The spoon could be up on the moon.
Do all things end as they begin?

Blue eyes misting up with dismay
See the world dimly, far away.
The spoon or the moon or my girl?
Do all things end as they begin?

He sits and waits, he is hungry.
He ponders what he was thinking
Just moments ago, an inkling.
Do all things end as they begin?

Polly Robinson © 2012

According to Catherine Wilson, writing in 2003, ‘The Kyrielle was once a very popular poetic form originating in France and dating back to the Middle Ages. The word Kyrielle is derived from a part of the church liturgy, the Kýrie eléison (Lord, have mercy).’  In this poetry form, couplets are often paired in quatrains and are characterised by a refrain that is sometimes a single word and sometimes the full second line of the couplet or the full fourth line of the quatrain.  Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables.  There is no limit to the number of stanzas a Kyrielle may have, but three is considered the accepted minimum.


40 thoughts on “He Sits and Waits

  1. Sounds like an interesting workshop – look forward to hearing all about it.
    As to the poem – very, very touching. And again, you’re trying a different form! Clever.


    • Now, how come you ended up in the trash with this comment Ms Holly? You stay out of such dirty places! 🙂

      Thank you for your kind comments ~ I am enjoying finding and writing to different forms 🙂


      • Trash? Harrumph! lol.
        It’s an interesting form isn’t it? Not sure I’ve quite got my head round the rules of it as yet, but I like the repeating of half thoughts and half memories as it fits so well with the subject. It truly is quite heartbreaking.


        • Hah! Not sure whether this is in response to version one or version two, but whichever, thank you for commenting. It’s not the easiest form to get your head around ~ I thought I’d understood it, but found today at the workshop that there were points that I’d missed, esp rhyming!

          Thanks for the comments 🙂


  2. That’s heartbreaking Polly. So sad that for many we end as we do begin, totally dependent on others to wash, dress and, hopefully feed us.
    Very fine writing. Touched me deeply.


  3. Curiosity ~ if that’s the right word ~ can be an affliction when you start to imagine what it is like for people who are at this stage in their lives ~ he wasn’t there the next time I went ~ always wondered what had happened ~ although in my heart of hearts I knew ~ you’re right, Bren, it is terribly sad.

    Thank you for your thoughts.


  4. The refrain works very well here, and the various interweaves and repetitions. Very poignant poem. k.


  5. This piece is touching and emotional, especially to those of us who have known a loved one suffering dementia. Beautiful yet heart-wrenching.


  6. This is a beautiful poem though it reflects the helplessness of a patient with dementia. I didn’t realise how common dementia was until I wrote a poem about dealing with dementia, and almost every person that commented had a relative with dementia.


  7. This was a beautiful poem. I have tears in my own eyes, now. Very well written. My husband in a CNA and works with many dementia patients. I am going to have him read this.


  8. I agree, a very moving poem which works well, such a devastating illness.


  9. Of course this got to me. We both have been blessed to have worked with the elderly. I think it is a gift. Touching.


  10. It’s most sad. They end up a shadow of themselves. Worst, devoid of dignity, they are not accorded the respect given before! Nice write Polly!



  11. your repeated line is a bit haunting to say the least…and you story full of emotion as well the loss of the thought…ugh…i spent a year in college working at a nursing home…so much need there…


  12. oh heck… this made me so sad… it is hard to be as helpless as a baby when getting old… interesting form as well… and hey… have fun at the poetry workshop!! so very cool


    • Some say the sufferer is unaware … from what I’ve seen … not so sure, so for me this makes it terrifying as well as sad.

      Just about to get ready for our journey to the workshop, Claudia, it’ll take around three hours to get there ~ will let you know how it goes.

      Thanks as always for your thoughts 🙂


  13. Very well written I reckon. Congratulations Polly.

    Dementia – I sometimes wonder if it is nature’s way to prepare someone for the ultimate journey. What we forget – we don’t miss.

    Peace, Eric


  14. Yes, I think we do end up the way we began. It’s like we revert to helpless infants again at the end of our lives…some more so than others of course. Sad way for a life to go…for the sufferer and those who witness it. Beautifully put…I could feel the confusion…



  15. Polly – it was lovely to meet you at the poetry workshop. It was fun to put a face to the name and I shall check out Writings and Witterings in the future. Happy scribbling. Jill


    • Hi Jill ~ ditto! It was great to meet you. I shall go and mooch on your blog shortly ~ busily trying to catch up with what I should have been doing yesterday (!) Hope to see you again ~ Polly


  16. Ah, I like the form a lot. Well done!


  17. OH Polly this is absolutely touching. I believe that you nailed it! Love the variations of ‘too soon’ This poor dear man …


  18. This poetry form provides a terrific forum for a painful lament ie. dementia. You utilized it to tears…


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