for U.A. Fanthorpe
A Busby-Berkeley stunner: thirty-second sequence
of curtains swished back one after one all down the ward.
I’m standing near my bed, a raw recruit, screened off
Then trundlings and swivellings
on polished boards, quickly in and quickly out,
and final curtains scraped back one by one.
‘Behind you! Through the window!’ next-bed said.
There in the open a metal box on wheels
and grinning porters rattling one of us away.
On the Mend
Allowed up. A second day
of clattering the tea urn round
to beds with lungs that squelch,
arteries like fog-crazed motorways;
who scream their lumbar puncturings;
beds spiked with catheters and drips;
whose rawness keeps us all awake.
Word’s gone ahead. I was the ‘last
to speak to him’ – cursed yesterday
gazing hopefully into something shrivelled
that vaguely shook its head.
At the end of a careless fortnight
they come for me, bringing shoes;
repossess my tapes and books, a still
uneaten orange. Angina in the next bed
writes an address in case I want to buy
Bristling with advice –
throw away the frying-pan, cut out
the Weed, don’t get your leg over
outside, I bite
the granny smith of autumn air
and stiffen myself to meet the dog.