A vaguely anaesthetic smell,
cold, clinical, unpleasantly obtrusive, brought by two
burly men, dark blue and hearty, into your home;
machines which blip and click clutter your floor.
As you invited them, you must allow them to remove you to
the place where bright lights cut into your eyes,
the scarlet of your jumper flagging up the immaculate wasteland of A&E.
Blue men deposit you and leave, turn in the doorway
to smile good wishes.
Colours come and hover over you, dark blues and light blues,
greens and pale greens, with now and then a flash of multicolour under white.
Questions need answers,
your limbs become attached to acronyms, needles prick your skin.
A new colour is added, livid bruises appear on arms and hands.
A dish of bitter tasting medicines is held for you to swallow,
involuntary spasms turn a pill into a missile.
Take your time, the dark blue says,
if you can bear it, you may crunch them into smaller fragments.
A bed is readied, no going home for you tonight, no sleep, no rest.
Into your nightgown now, the only colour grey, low lights illuminating shadows,
and questions without end.
And so a day of tedium begins,
a second day to follow.
Wheeled here and there, the blues and greens control the day,
your movement is curtailed by tubes and bleeping robots.
There's no escape from cries and moans, from pointless conversations
and strips of neon lighting overhead.
The problem solves itself. The storm which buffeted your chest has eased.
It has done so before and no doubt will again.
The men in suits appear, the demi-gods of theatre and ward,
no doctors they, just call me Mister Slicer, Cutter or Consultant.
Their diagnosis is that they don't have one.
We know the problem well, they say, although we still don't know
which trigger will unleash it.
We'll change your medication, a new regime to manage it might work.
Exhausted now from lack of sleep you nod agreement, what else is there to do.
You're grateful for their efforts. Soon you'll be free to go.
They want your bed for someone worse off than yourself.
It takes a very sick man to survive a stay in hospital intact.
Relief at being discharged almost makes you weep.
Your kitchen table offers bread and soup; each stitch of clothing
tainted by the smell of healing is discarded; you let a cascade
of hot water cleanse your pores, until no trace of invalidity remains.
Outside your bedroom window the night is dark and still,
the river murmurs sleepily, she's back again, she's home.
The tawny owls agree, one calls another all the way across the valley
with the good news, it's done, she's home and in her bed, asleep.