Night Life

Illustration © Atlanta Wiggs in International Times, June 2021

Ward 4B

During a heatwave, visitors are 
forbidden beyond the reception desk. 
 
Breathing machines run on batteries
after midnight nurses rush out 
 
on cigarette break. There is 
a sudden drop in humidity         
 
with the scream of a new-born 
dug out of the womb by hand.
 
Outside the hospital, a man walks
between candles like into a forest 
 
delivering flowers to the maternity. 
Alley cats rummage through garbage, 
 
wish him good luck. Staff change shifts
back at depot for deep-cleaning.
 
Summer rainwater washes away 
night traffic blood puddles.

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2021, published in International Times on 26 June 2021.

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