[I’m falling down on the job, today. Busy entertaining, cooking and catering and what have you. Busy trying to sort out next week. It turns out, when I finally attend to things, I have at least three hospital appointments next week, one of which means I shall be missing one of the launch events at the Leadmill in Sheffield for ‘One for the Road’…the poems- about -pubs anthology curated by Helen Mort and Stuart Maconie. I was due to read one of mine, and looking forward to it. Bugger. As we say in the literary business. With one thing and another, I don’t think I can do justice to a post I’d planned about ‘sequences’. What I will say as a teaser that there are some stellar contributors to the piece. So, gala event next week. In the meantime. I’ll keep it all ticking over with a daily helping of hospital poems, which, in the manner of Blue Peter, I’d already prepared. Thank you for flying with “the great fogginzo’s cobweb” xx]
I can put up with most of the experience of being in hospital. After all, you tell yourself, it’ll be over, eventually. So you resign yourself to the abrupt switch from night to day, the buzz of neon tubes firing up, the arbitrary bustle, the sheer influx of people. The talk. You settle for eating the food, believing that you need to feed yourself up, get strong, get out. You grit your teeth at the regal progress of the consultant on his morning rounds, with the gaggle of knackered junior doctors at his heels, his offensive breeziness. You even learn to accept being pummelled and plumped straight by certain bed-tidying nurses. But the nights are different. The world goes out, the lights go dim, though it’s never dark. Voices become disembodied. Voices cry out in pain. Old men shout. In High Dependency it is, if anything, worse, attached as you are to machines with oscillating colourful screens, to drips, to drains, to catheters and a stent in your hand that delivers (or doesn’t) your morphia. I don’t know that anyone ever warned me about, or prepared me for, morphine-induced nightmares, the disorientating surrealism of it all. Hence today’s poems. I’m indulging myself and putting one of my own in as a companion to the guest poet’s memory.
Little Acheron : Maria Taylor
You must have sipped from the water
on the night they took you in.
Sometimes I hear the river murmur
when you cry, so I slip underwater.
Hooves suddenly, this is how it feels;
I must have fallen asleep again
so I rise, making sure the curtains
are drawn and notice the cloth is fraying
to a dull peach. Bear with me,
I am not used to the metallic cadences
of machines, or the sight of ghosts
out-staring me in mirrors.
You sleep now, but the river wants
to rush in and I am struggling to keep
the curtains drawn. I breathe in the air
now dense with water, we should be quiet.
(Little Acheron: First published in ‘Melanchrini’ [Nine Arches Press 2012]
High Dependency : John Foggin
I’m split like a fig parched as old newsprint
listening to Mrs Mumtaz’ murmuring daughters
longing for sweet sips of water in a shimmer
of saffron plum and emerald chinks and gleams
of gold of bracelets finely threaded scarves
the exact and beautiful pleats of the turban
of Mr Mumtaz who sits by the ghost of his wife
cobwebbed with morphine and the whispers
of slender daughters exotic and wary as birds
embroidering me dreams where no stitches pluck
where there are no drains or snaky tubes
no oscillating screens no stupidity of pain
that’s somewhere in this room and might be mine
(First published in Gap Year by Andy Blackford and John Foggin [SPMPublications 2017])
Maria Taylor’s poems have been published in a range of magazines including Ambit, Magma, Stand and The Rialto. Her debut collection Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize in 2013. Her pamphlet, Instructions for making me (Happenstance) was published earlier this year. She is also reviews editor for Under the Radar magazine. She lives in Leicestershire and can be found blogging at miskinataylor.blogspot.co.uk