You can go home now: hospital poems (16)……the epilogue


Last hospital post. A stay in hospital is invariably disconcerting, often uncomfortable, invariably filled with periods of boredom and irritability. But the routines,(and the odd surrealism of its being normality for the amazing folk who actually work there, day in and day out), are sometimes punctuated by moments of pure comedy, and sometimes by things that are utterly and joyously memorable. So here’s my favourite memory of a ten day stay in Dewsbury General. There’s a back story to this that I’ll keep to the end





Confidence trick


Here is never quiet, quite,

nor dark  enough for sleep.

Urgency and purpose

are never reassuring —


like this castanet clatter

of curtain rings, the flourishing

of  fabric that tents an empty bed;

white coats, blue-belted nurses

that come in a flurried huddle,

like bees, and, in a sudden,

pull aside the screens. And go.


A wonder sits in a bubble of light,

immaculate in white.His wide sleeves

fall as easily as water from his wrists;

he winds and winds a turban,

his fingers long and tapered, the ribbon

like a stream..  He is quite at ease.


He sits cross-legged, his knees, his calves

flat on the sheets, his feet,

pale-soled, together like a prayer.


He is alien and beautiful. A hawk.

His beard is silver-frosted,

eyes dark, his face sun-black.


Here are red and ochre mountains,

ash, the tang of woodsmoke, juniper,

and dung. Here is dust and stone,

hot wind, kites, a huge white sky.


No-one know why he is here

or how to speak his language.

No-one knows how old he is.

He knows  how to be still.


Next morning

his bed’s been stripped,

and he has vanished.

For me, the magic, trick or not,

was real . I wish him well.


[Unpublished. Till now]




I should acknowledge lifting the last line from Douglas Dunn’s ‘Terry Street’..the poem about the guy somewhere down the Hessle Road, pushing a lawnmower in the street. ‘That man, I wish him grass’.

The character in the poem turned up in the middle of the night. His installation seemed to involve most of the hospital night staff. Because you’re drugged up a lot of the time, you assume it’s a dream. But next morning, there he is, as described in the poem. For three days he taxed the ingenuity of all the hospital staff, who tried him on Arabic, Hindi, Panjabi, Pashtun and a range of other languages..all to no avail. And then he was gone. I missed him enormously. He was, simply, a visual delight. It turned out he was a con man who had been working his way around the hospitals of East and West Yorkshire. It seems even now a ridiculously complicated way of blagging free bed and board.


So that’s it . Thank you to all our guests for their time and their poems xx Thanks:

Bob Horne, Neil Clarkson, Charlotte Ansell, Ian Harker, Becky Cherriman, Rose Drew, Hilary Elfick, Lydia Macpherson, Andy Humphrey, Keith Hutson, Christopher North, Maria Taylor, Andy Blackford, Rebecca Gethin and Joe Williams

And thanks and ever thanks to the wonderful thing that is the NHS.



There will now be an intermission of some days. Next post should be  Oct30th..



One thought on “You can go home now: hospital poems (16)……the epilogue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.