THE PORCUPINE by David Graham

THE PORCUPINE.                                                                                                      

‘Good Lord’! he exclaimed from his chair by the patio doors.

‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked from the comfort of my Parker Knoll.

‘It can’t be!’ he exclaimed slowly donning his glasses.


Engage him in small talk, I reminded myself. Don’t let him descend into droll.

‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked engagingly and lowered my needlework screen.

Is it that pretty green woodpecker again, dear’? I asked brightly and reached for a blue threaded spool.

‘Is that what you have just seen?

Or is it perhaps next door’s tortoiseshell cat again, dear’? I added and muttered, ‘The dirty little swine’.


‘It’s neither of those things you suggest, mother’, he said, without turning at that.


‘I am not your mother, dear’, I gently corrected, ‘I am your wife, Flo.

And if it is not the green woodpecker, dear, nor next door’s tortoiseshell cat.

Do tell me what you have seen out there that has excited you so?’


‘Well’, he quipped without turning,

‘If you believe you are my wife’s mother Flo. That is fine.

Nevertheless, I think your daughter needs warning,

That what I can see through these doors, is actually a large porcupine’.


Oh dear, I recalled with misgivings,

That his mind would deceive his eyes.

He would slowly begin to misconstrue things

And be apt to fantasise.


Gracious me, what should I do now? I wondered in alarm

And shivered as my eyes grew misty with tears.

‘Well! This really will not do, Flo!’

The words worked like a charm.

‘What is required now is action, you know.

You must make sure that he comes to no harm.’


‘A porcupine, did you say, my dear’? I asked

laying aside the needlework I had hoped to complete.

‘Just give me a moment, my dear and I will join you’, I said

whilst the Parker Knoll raised me to my feet.


‘Now then’, I said when I reached him to address his outlandish claim

‘Where was this porcupine seen, dear’? I asked with ill concealed scepticism

And leant on my new Zimmer frame.


‘Don’t think I don’t know that you are humouring me’, he scoffed with mild derision.

‘I have not gone gaga, just yet. Mark you.

Mere minutes ago I was watching that confounded pigeon

When blow me, if a porcupine didn’t suddenly hove into view!

It came from beneath next door’s extension

And has sauntered on down to the church.


Now, if you will follow my index to the graveyard

And look to the right of that horse chestnut tree

Confirming that I am not ga ga, will not be hard

Once you describe to me what you can see.


With ill-feigned interest, I followed his indexed line

‘Do you mean, dear’, I asked, ‘where the earth is still fresh and neat?

Good Lord!’ I exclaimed, ‘You are right. Dear! I see it! It is a very large porcupine!

Oh dear, dear’, I added softly, ‘I’m afraid it is eating your mother’s new wreath’.

3 thoughts on “THE PORCUPINE by David Graham

    • Thanks Michael, well spotted.

      Ironically, although I did enjoy working on this poem and I was pleasantly surprised when it finally came together, I had not set out with the intention of writing about Alzheimer’s. It just sort of happened of its own accord.


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