Thursday, November 22, 2012

After visiting a nursing home

from w
I wrote this a few year's ago after visiting my elderly mother when she was in Special Care at the Swan Hill District Hospital. She had all her faculties but her body let her down and yet lived amidst a variety of elderly patients who had dementia and various disabilities.  I  sympathised with the men and women there, though I barely understood their situation, being  able-bodied myself then.

Waking in the Night

The nurse, a new migrant
rouses from the nest of duty,
props her ‘New Wife’s Kiss’ on her desk,
cat-limps down the corridor to my bell.
An azure night mocks, making the hours bleaker
as a car skids on an icy highway.

His absence, their absence,
my heart grows still,
perhaps they are just busy.
This is the House of God in waiting.

What use is my former humour
as Telemus scoots by in his chair
shouting for his Mana.
He’s half my age but there’d been an accident
in Greece. No more fish and chips for him.
With the build of a strong athlete
he wheels himself, shouting out ‘Mana!’
Wearing his bright beanie by sun or moon.
he shares our bathroom,
urinous from the constant drips in us
Legless or mindless, cut off
at the knees or from words,
this is our day in a four-bed ward.

The nursing station lights bring out Sylvia,
porcupine eyes, with a tray of pills
without labels that we can read.
No-one notices I hide them all.
She is unfit, roly-poly as a seal
As she swashbuckles about in her tight uniform
removing the residue of our supper.

There is no bravado left in us,
no dignity as they strip us bare
In a pubic shame.

In between the limits of each day,
Hours go by under a  banal television
and one slightly nonsensical Alzeimers
pushes a chair as a vaccuum.
He’s forgotten by attendants at teabreak.
There are many like so
in this Special Care Unit.

After a cardboard breakfast
I weigh sixty kilos this morning.
Once I walked miles at golf,
strutted in my turtle-necked sweater
before the smooth bedroom mirror.
Now the future is less familiar
And I am just a pinched face
amidst these declining thoroughbreds
near my age, some twice my weight.
We are all old-timers, senior citizens,
Some of us locked in memory
And I now wake in fright.


Blogger annie said...

So touching, Wendy. Thank you for expressing how confusing and frightening these difficulties are for our loved ones and they feel so alone with them.


4:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home