Friday 8 May 2015

A&E on a Friday Night

Today was election result day. This is an observation made of a woman sitting in front of me tonight in the waiting room of Accident and Emergency in the Royal London, while I nursed, what I later found out to be, a broken arm.

On a Friday night
The news
At ten
In Whitechapel
Jack the Ripper
Can't make claim
To the casualties of the night
Taken hostage and tortured by
Accidents and emergencies
Of their own making or
Of natural or unnatural means
And one such victim
On a waiting room seat
Ready to take flight
Brave fear
In her bones
And on her back
A rucksack ruffle
And black sweater
With white spots
Casually over a shoulder
Which is tense
Having seen
Her blood betray her
And a  lump
Move from her arm
To her leg
A rebel clot
No doubt
She checks her arms
In navy and white striped
Three quarter length sleeves
She cannot see under
The grey trousers
And brown brogues
Showing just enough of the
Matching stripey socks
To ensure they were not
What's the point of matching apparel
If you cant see it?
She wondered
When the sales woman
Tried to sell her
Matching lingerie
No point when
You're dead either
She remembered when
She was young
And vain enough
For clothes emergencies
In A & E
Is not
Any clothes are removed
To see underneath
Their ornamental value
Has decreased
Like her hair
When it turned
Prematurely grey
And she refused
To turn to 'honey blonde'
To turn back time
But she cut it monthly
In a bob around her face
What used be called
NHS glasses
Now back in vogue
If she stayed still
Long enough
Fashion caught up
She was still now
Just one foot tapping
At least she was in the right place
If anything happened
If the lump
Was a clot
And went to her brain
She'd found a place to sit
Directly in front
Of the sign
'Ugent Care Centre'
She needed urgent care
So they could easily find her
And so
She has no other casualties
In her sights
Who might tempt her to play
She holds her black cardie
Like a security blanket
Or broken wing
Keeping her arms uncovered
In case the swelling comes back
So she will see it again
And not have imagined it
The only time
She wished her phone
Had a camera
For evidence
For now
She was her only witness
And there wasn't even pain
A phantom
In her body
Which had years ago already rebelled
As women's bodies do
Not just every month
But when they get to an age
When monthly
Changes time
To the biological clock
Another timezone
Tick tick
She feels her pulse
And calms herself
And the rising tide
She is afraid will engulf her
And she doesn't see the boy with suspected appendicitis
And the older man with chest pain
Or the guy the blue gloved police have brought in
Swaying in and out of lucidity
Some substance
Still abusing him
And the blue gloved police
Telling him
'You're in the Royal London hospital.'
As if an arrivals announcement
In a major airport
Departures are not announced
The man is on a wave
His wheelchair, his surfboard
Controlled by the police
Perhaps he is having
A silent revolution
Against a disappointing
Vaccinating himself
Against the epidemic of
Conservatism infecting the country
We are all in A&E
In need
Of urgent care
Mourning our losses
With the NHS on death's door
And the country's humanity not far behind
What is chest pain or appendicitis or clots or unconsciousness
When no one cares?
Just symptoms of a deeper
A more painful truth
What does death matter
If you don't care? 
Her name is called
She takes flight
And like that
Someone tends to her pain
And not a filthy coin or note
Has exchanged hands
Because we care
We look after each other
With our taxes
We pay the ferryman
Or else we go to hell

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