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By Imtiaz Dharker (1954–) With comment by John Birtwhistle

Your eyes open, silver

for one second, close.

Your hand stops, falls still.

You send me no more messages.

The machine by your bed

is saying prayers for you.

It keeps watch, tenderly interpreting

your body's needs.

It listens and records your every breath,

the turning of your blood, your heartbeat.

All night, all night, it pays …

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  • Competing interests None

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • ‘Vigil’ is reprinted by kind permission from Imtiaz Dharker's collection Over the Moon (Hexham, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2014);

  • 1. Poems of the aubade type, of which an example is ‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne.