New art


I am a rare English nurse in my team,

Working amongst the kindest, the most patient, the young,

And those over from the Philippines, Poland, Sri Lanka, Kerela, Romania and Nepal,

To care for the British old. 

Night after night we clean up incontinence,

Cream, papery white skin,

Turn skeletal limbs, to stop sores,

Bring tea, hold bony gnarled hands,

Feed ham sandwiches, creamy fruit yoghurts, shortbread, cake

To those in shadowy lit worlds, between the living and dead

Who no longer recognise their children

And call out for their long dead mothers.

We hold their unease, their dislocation.

We are greeted with screams and scratches, sometimes kisses and ‘darlings’

Moments of recognition, of laughter and an occasional song

Eyes glazed and scared, where am I, what’s wrong? 

Those who come to judge, forget to notice our care.

We are checked for records, targets, evidence for court,

Piles and piles of written justifications

As though we were the guilty ones.

This is the tragedy, the lack of belief

An absence of trust, 

A desire to blame.

Misunderstanding the passage of time,

The inevitability of death

And the soaring, overriding, magnitude…

Of love and what love can truly mean.