I wrote this verse during my first hospital admission, two weeks before I was to turn 19. The structure and language are self-conscious, embarrassingly so, but it held enough truth for one of the ward sisters to keep a copy.
About 40 years later the same sister arrived to work the night shift on the ward where I then was. She recognised me and asked if I would type out the poem again as her original was somewhat dog-eared. Social attitudes had changed so much in the intervening years, and she introduced herself by her forename. Could I use it? Not easily. To me she was still ‘Sister Lewis’ of Marigold ward.
27th August 1969, by MMC
Mid night draws near
And Sleep envelopes the world in darkness,
For only one does consciousness remain,
Or such is my conviction. That one is me,
The tranquillity that I so desire
Unable to attain. Silence surrounds,
As does the dark of night, so absolute,
So all consuming in its entirety. But sleep must come,
A refuge in the tempest men call “life”.
Oblivion: The tablets have effect, but not for long For then come the torments: dreams and nightmares Haunt the night, but with the certain purpose To calm and quell the horrors of the day; You can never, never escape either. You are falling, falling, never ending. So you wake, knowing that you only dream But unable to forget the terror Which the spectral visions brought. The terror leaves And escapism dawns like the new day. Lying in bed, snug, secure, secluded, Alone, and in an “ivory tower” Of peace, protected from the world’s evils. The calmness becomes a reality Like the coming of the life-giving sun: The leaves are motionless, the birds begin Their early morn song; a faint breeze, a stir As blackness leaves the sky.
The hospital Comes alive: hustle and bustle abounds As nurses rouse patients from their slumber Preparing to break the fast of the night. Alone, and at peace with yourself, you think of the friends and family that you loved; The few, so few, who genuinely care. Lazily you remain curled up in bed Knowing you should rise and prepare for the day But unable to find the courage To continue. You think of those for whom you can feel love, Whether expressed or not, since blatancy In love in insincere: the love I feel Is too personal to be voiced abroad. A mere gesture, or token of friendship: A flower, a book, a light touch of the hand, Reveals inexpressible emotions And brings a bliss to the heart, the soul, Rarely experienced.
That’s a heck of a piece of writing for a 19 year old! Where did that ability come from? And so nice that the nurse remembered you from so long ago, that is very rewarding 👏👏🕉
Her memories of me were not all glowing! I was the youngest person ever to be on the ward, and extremely disturbed. Her recollections were along the lines of “you were trouble”. And she was justified. 😉
I think we can all reflect like that and find times when we were little terrors. Thankfully I was never hospitalised like you were, but between the ages of 8 and 10 a group of us in our small villages were running wild. Nothing major, just the usual boyish things you read in comics from the 1950s. Raiding orchards, setting light to things, getting into places we weren’t supposed to. Happy days. B. 🤦♂️
Scrumping, arson, and trespass. What’s not to like? 😅
Oh dear, I tried so hard not to use those words, the cats out of the bag now 🤫🙃