Off-duty – unashamedly
off-capped, unbelted – she
confides over coffee

as to a friend or brother:
today Manpower contacted her
and they had lunch together.

What’s worse, the pair of them
plan to discuss optimum
staff levels at the same time

next week. What does he take
me for? Some geriatric
fumbling to undo the lock

of my own front door, if
and when my clocked-off
NHS employee-wife

breezes home to befriend me?
This meeting of theirs – maybe
it should be for three?

– with me putting the case
for one-to-one manning ratios,
patient needs. Unless

I can play it his way:
sit, day after deskbound day,
till the day of the meeting; then say

(sister indeed) ‘Sister
available? No? Don’t bother.
Just tell her Malestrength wants her’.

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