By | 1 July 2006


Pollock lipstick
vagabond slippers, the snug imprisonment of tracksuits
smeared with 11:30 soft-diet lunch.

Begin to hope the progress
behind pharmacological ramparts.
The real medicine is touch
all other expertise unnecessary.

I am now a fixture here
the nurses chat at visits, even read my books
between wiping bums and perennially guiding Tommy back to bed.
Clinical notes recorded on the verge –
chasms of new molecules, pneumonic harmonica and missing teeth.
I sing along at this birthday party
when everybody else thinks it's theirs.
Cordial and cake fly like confetti
slow motion kindergarten.
There's the bazaar worth of plots afoot
scheming over nothing
stolen glasses
or dentures. Pirates are aloft in the rigging of their wheelchairs/
aluminium walking-frames glint dangerously in a
gatecrashed sunlight that cranks gaiety to a cackled fever.

Each visitor is like a death, still hanging on
rusted to every mother as she's caught keening into where.

The constant spatter of TVs
worlds coming in to seduce away facts
that have still clung on
(steel hooks in the cerebellum).
Always music somewhere
cassette recordings of pianos built with ceramic tiles instead of strings
Underneath the Arches
We'll Meet Again
(and just once My Generation sent a ripple of fear
through attendant babyboomers).
The heart patch of fort nursed,
mouths open like day
eyes turn tail in prayer
for this week's Dearly Departed.

My mother is “such a lady”
and they love her in the way
of pedestrian driftwood, stars and paper cuts.
The dependable burn of cigarettes,
flags of clarity and abyss, alternate horrors each
in separate ways. Time as soil erosion.
Some kind of word in a sleeping night.
Commonwealth Care Standards
and the guilt of children.

Nothing here is unmanaged
yet there's a kind of anarchy,
painted over every three months and
marked on coloured charts.

Families play a hackneyed role –
their fret, love
and secret wishings.
It washes over staff who've seen it before.
There are always better,
always worse actors for these parts.
It's a morality play
written in DNA
´cause Mum's dementia
will probably be our inheritance.
Partners and doctors monitor afternoon snores,
measure our decay.

This is some kind of harvest
old flesh on brittle bones
and grey wheat above
episodic eyes.
Who says death is better?
Most of us
(today- tinned salmon in a weak tomato sauce).
Usually not the residents
rusted in
sometimes even the mad, tender collegiality
of senescent love affairs –
even though she calls him
by another name and his face
is netted alongside unrelated memories.

In the sound of the sun,
every day is new.
Ambulances arrive
more regularly than friends –
there's the thrill of the ride
beneath panic, balms
and the silent rite of agony.

These veterans wear their ribbons of scars.
Pain management.
Come half past five everyone breathes easier, a sort of tranquillity,
when That Bloody Vera starts nodding off.

This entry was posted in 25: COMMON WEALTH and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.