HOSPITAL POEMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

one

 

 

 

 

 

We are all dislocated

 

lucked out of our lives and left marooned

 

frozen portions of a whole which we

 

assumed through motion,

 

never proved.

 

Now dependants, patients, penitents,

 

each served on a bed of circumstance:

 

we must endure

 

the rigorous displacement of ourselves

 

lodged here as metaphors;

 

in notes, as images, conditions, symptoms, charts,

 

our personhoods postponed, our selves deferred

 

whose unattractive residues persist

 

mere obstacles to hygiene and control.

 

So file us under pending. Battered, blurred,

 

we inch between the tragic and absurd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not cheering,

 

being old, in pain, about to die,

 

the nurses do not like it when you shout,

 

turning hostile, they neglect your hurt,

 

they have their own, internal miseries.

 

One is allergic to her skin,

 

one was not told she had to work all week

 

here in the closed ward under quarantine;

 

if it is cheering which we’re hearing now

 

it’s distant televisions, not for us.

 

Such are the promises, the guarantees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

three

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ward is closed,

 

we’re scrupulously pale

 

we wash our hands in alcohol in fear

 

of spreading further the unwritten word

 

of vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

four

 

 

 

 

 

‘I wish to God that I were dead’

 

he calls out as they make him stand

 

he wants to fall back on his bed

 

but that is not what they have planned.

 

 

He seeks the swift simplicities,

 

the minimum of fuss and pain,

 

while nurses and their therapies

 

require that he should work again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

five

 

 

 

 

The sun comes out  (‘comes out’,

 

as if released from prison,

 

or discharged)

 

and there are dark birds blown like scraps of bag;

 

it has discharged itself, protective cloud

 

has roiled away to blackbird-eggshell-blue

 

and still this building leaks and lets off steam,

 

a shanty-town of huts stacked at the gate

 

a mystery of plans we dare not trust

 

a portakabin-temporary time

 

that ticks into an era.

 

Place and I

 

in permanent transition, reconstruct.

 

All my lost clocks,

 

their batteries expired

 

gone feral now.

 

My life goes on without me, as it must.