Routine Transfer (Maternity Ward, 1983)

1 May 2014

The woman whose baby died at birth
sits in the wheelchair waiting for the lift, a drip
in her arm. A nurse stands beside, in charge

of drip stand and suitcase, her eyes
on the woman’s grey face. She pictures
the textbook womb, curled-up baby

scooped out, the woman hollowed. This
is no routine transfer, it should be
funereal, a silent procession to the ward.

Another nurse stands behind, ready to push
the chair into the lift. She talks
of tonight’s date, her new winter boots,

asks if it’s nearly lunchtime. The nurse beside,
her face hot with shame, watches the words
pelt like hailstones on the slumped body.

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