How are you feeling now? Hospital poems (15)


I’d decided that there would be just one more guest post in this series. But yesterday, by a strange kind of synergy, under an ominous grey sky with a very small dull red sun, I went off to St James’ Infirmary (there’s a Blues sung specially for it, you know) and the incredibly light and beautifully designed Oncology Dept. It has a big spacious atrium, and there’s a Baby Grand at which a succession of absorbed pianists tinkle soothing things throughout the day. There’s lovely looking fruit stall, and as a bonus yesterday, Macmillan Charity workers were selling the most staggeringly more-ish selection of homemade cakes you could shake a stick at. Up on the next floor in Nuclear Medicine I drank lots of water and then went along corridors with infinite perspectives to a a white room with a scanner straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was beyond white. It was very very white. Before that, in the waiting room, I read a lot of Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica. It’s astonishing. And I read three poems Rebecca Gethin sent me. And here are two of them. No explanation needed.


Coming round :  Rebecca Gethin


I was breaching frost-cold water

but which was me and which was water

I couldn’t tell, the current drawing

what seemed to be a mind

further down to open sea

where taste was brackish,

vision salt and smarting


and my limbs moved

in the fallingfeeling

lived in its breathlessness,

but I breathed through its pounding

as though breasting

its tugging and pulling

by lying within it,

resting on its will.




En route   


Corridors are like tunnels –

turns to left, right, right, left –


the blue line I was told to follow

is one among several

and other people flow along different ones,

their footsteps tapping –


a white corridor with an electricbuzz

lies before me.  I am tipped downhill

past a chapel with a cross on the door,

Oncology at the bottom


and still further on towards

Nuclear Medicine.

More edges and corners

to a cul de sac –


the waiting room.  Windowless.

Were it not for all the people waiting

the room would be empty.


We wait on the cushions

of our shadows.  Our names

pull each one through the door alone.


Rebecca Gethin  won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award with her first novel, Liar Dice, which was published in 2011. Her first poetry collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009 and was followed by a second collection, A Handful of Water, with Cinnamon Press in 2013. What the Horses Heard is her latest novel and was published in May 2014. Her two latest collections are A Sprig of Rowan  [Three Drops Press], and All the time in the world  [ published in Feb 2017 :Cinnamon Press]


Last hospital post tomorrow. That’s definite.

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