There is no other sign of life here,
only my fingers caught between
the wooden pages of a newspaper.
When everyone else builds
the flat packed cement houses outside,
me and the nurse behind the glass
scrutinise each other, munching dry biscuits
saying sorry for the spoilt tea nobody drinks.
Of this I am not yet so sure.
I suppose she checks the pulse,
the nurse with a concrete face
keeps filling in the charts
with the same precision she fills in
the crossword spread open
over my legs.
I do not mind.
I say to her ‘could you please remove the batteries
from the white clock’ the time
does not matter now
what matters, I think she says, is hanging on in there.
Her own watch upside down
hanging on, just about, with her name badge.
I offer her my bed.
I could after all sit in the waiting room
by the door
or make her coffee, I suggest.
But Susan points her finger at that hole,
uncovered wound on my chest.
‘For now, let’s just talk.’
The bare wall is
the last thing I remember and
Susan watching the news.
We are running a bath, my sister and I,
The river drips, drips through the ceiling
While my fingers write poetry on the steamy mirror.
She sits on the bathroom floor, eating chocolate.
Mother says people like her will grow fat and
I know she is probably right
But Clara is always in the same room with me,
Watching my very words.
Clara agrees that I should wash first
And whilst I take my clothes off
All my warm bones fall on the white marble.
She admires my tallness
And folds away my perfect dress.
Clara examines my poem, moving her head from side to side,
Asks whether all this writing is about her.
I do not hear the question
I wash my hair with soap
Her hands follow the lines of my text.
I cannot stop starring at
Her thin reflection in my black icy water.
Behind the screen, I was putting my clothes back on
Thinking what the verdict would be in the white room
(I had been silently waiting my turn
Enjoying somehow the inevitable loss).
But then you dropped the pen,
And looked at the clean x-ray.
I took a chair and moved it back in the middle of the room.
As I sat down, my fingers just briefly touched your face.
I vaguely remember the conversation we had
But I know we said good bye
As I looked back, you waved,
Your left hand folding a notebook.
Since that day, I had been looking the word tenderness up
Just to see if you were right:
The fragility of a glass statue in front of an angry hammer.