23 DEC 10
and in the shop…
“Nasty, British & Short”
and “Facing Demons”
On the pillow to my right, the Scottish vicar’s wife,
still snoring. I observe, with tenderness,
her open mouth, spread hair.
On the pillow to my left, the conker face
of Ed the vagrant. He’s so deep in drugs
he seldom surfaces. The kind you might ignore
on some park bench, attended by an optimistic dog.
Who tends his dog?
I could reach out and touch him, but I won’t.
We are too close. All of us
have seen and heard each other doing, saying things
that should be done and said behind closed doors.
We know each other’s secrets.
We have witnessed all those small and sharp
unkindnesses that nurses bring.
They know me, in and out. Likewise,
I know his date of birth, his state of mind
– the doctors here discuss it every day.
I know her age, the problems with her kids.
I know her desperation: Edinburgh vowels
aching to be understood in this broad Cornish place.
We have been levelled, me, him, her;
scared, scarred, trapped in the same boat.
His bed’s his world. Her world’s 500 miles away.
My world comes visiting at noon, tears in his eyes.