It was in Kuala Lumpur,
Of all places on this earth.
It was not the homely town
That I had passed through in 74,
When no building reached for the sky.
Now it was a gleaming city
Of shopping malls and walkways overhead.
Tired from the flight and unsure where to go,
We took a taxi to the centre.
We mentioned to the driver
That we were visiting our son.
It could make no difference to him
Whether we saw our son or not.
He must have had his own concerns
And the shopping to do before he reached home.
But when we arrived and said with relief,
‘There he is, waiting for us!’
The driver smiled and laughed and shook our hand in joy,
And was, it seemed, as happy as we were.
Then we said goodbye,
And he was lost in the traffic.
Now on to another place and time,
To Palma once more,
And not so long ago really.
I, nervous and unsure,
Recovering in hospital,
Where I had never spent a night before.
When, finally, we were released,
On a Saturday I remember,
And my wife came with a small suitcase
For my few clothes.
I got up from the bed,
And slowly stood and looked ahead
Unsteady and unsure
If I could make it down the corridor.
I started off and, leaning heavily on my wife,
Raised my head and slowly walked towards the door.
The next room was being prepared
For another patient.
We passed a woman busy with a pile of bright, white sheets.
She could have no interest in my progress,
Or where I was going.
It didn’t affect her one way or the other.
But seeing us, she smiled and said,
‘Here he comes! The champion!’
‘Voy despacio,’ I answered. ‘No puedo correr.’
‘I’m going slowly. I can’t hurry!’
She smiled again.
‘You’ll be running around tomorrow!
Just you wait and see!
Hombre! You look fine.’
Smiling she returned to her sheets
And was lost in her work.
I just murmured, ‘Gracias’.