Eighteen Years

Today’s poem is about loneliness within the aging population. It is inspired by my grandma, who although we loved her, died 10 years after her husband – the man she had loved all her life. And also, my Granddad’s next door neighbor who is alone in her house, struggling to survive. I will talk about the poem a little bit more later, for now please take a read, it literally means the world.

Eighteen Years
By Alexandra Harrison

He stopped breathing 18 years ago
She stopped believing 18 years ago
They were going to go the Caribbean
And sit upon the camels in Egypt
Make pretty gardens from flowers
Host parties for their family…
Learn to dance and go to jazz
See their son pass his exams
But now she’s all alone
And I can’t say it’s poetic
It’s not beautiful
It’s simply tragic
She sits alone
Waiting for the telephone to ring
But there is nobody on the line
And there hasn’t been for 14 weeks

Iris June just sits at home
Watching TV
She doesn’t know how to change the channel
And she can’t see the pictures on the screen

Sitting in her own urine, she stares at the TV
Wondering what he’d think of her now
Against what she used to be

18 years ago he stopped breathing
18 years ago she stopped believing
He sits inside her mind
Waiting until the day he can leave
And dance into the afterlife

She’s leaving her home comforts behind
Going to Jamaica, with no one in mind
Set him free
And start believing in yourself
You’ll see him soon
Iris June, just sleep and let him go

Dream of the places you have never been
Smile an age old smile
Of mints and earl grey tea
He’ll be waiting for you on a sunny beach somewhere
And you’ll be only twenty three
Iris June and Frank June
In love forever more


Pretentious description/analysis/commentary

It’s not perfect, as the flow is quite disruptive (so pretentious omg) but I hope it’s good enough at least. At the beginning of the poem it is stated, quite obviously, that Frank has died and Iris has become lonely. It illustrates their plans for retirement, which then contrasts against the horrific reality many elderly people face. I took inspiration from my Granddad’s neighbor who can’t change the channel on her TV and falls when she tries to go to the toilet. My Granddad visits her daily and tries to help, but he is 76 himself – there is only so much he can do. The lady also lives too far away for me to help her. Iris obviously is holding on to Frank’s memory so much ‘he sits inside her mind’ that it is still negatively impacting her life. The narrator of the poem tells her to let Frank go and move on. The last part is metaphorical, obviously Iris can’t go to Jamaica, in her current physical state, but she allows herself psychologically to dream again ’18 years ago she stopped believing’ It is suggested at the end of the poem that Iris dies in her sleep, dreaming of Frank and the happy times they had to together ‘he’ll be waiting for you on a sunny beach somewhere’ as if Iris is going into the afterlife and is finally at peace with herself and the concept of dying. ‘In love forever more’ suggesting infinity.

Sorry for a sad post today, but many elderly people at this time of year are alone and I felt like this needs to be addressed. They have no family to spend Christmas with, no one to help them prepare food or prepare a fire. This isn’t because these people are stupid – I hate when people baby old people. They are intelligent people, that used to be the same as you and me. They still have opinions and feelings on what is happening to them. You are all lovely people, I am sure you will show some love and empathy to your elders this Christmas.

Thank you so much for reading, feedback is always appreciated



23 thoughts on “Eighteen Years

  1. i love the disrupptive nature of it and I like that it’s not perfect because that just makes it more ..perfect. ( am i making sense?) . my point is that I really like this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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