A Poem by Terry Collett



The nurses leave you
Alone most of the time,
They have plenty to do

Without bothering with
You and your voices
And ghosts. Marie, put

Clothes on, is all they
May say, but then move
On to others less sane,

But they’ll be back to see
You again, later, less cheery,
Less spirited. Your maternal

Grandmother sits by your
Side; she chews gum, her
Eyes like bank pages, her

Hair long and white, her
Ghostly dress just above
The knees, the tattoo still

There, the green and yellow
And blue. She watches you.
The jaw moving, the silence

Awkward. You reach out a
Hand, but she isn’t there
And you feel coldness in

The air. Mother comes on
Tuesdays with her usual
Nagging and bitching, Father

Comes on Saturdays the hole
In his heart still there, the bullet
Wound visible, phantom like.

You wait for the night when
Pierre shows, dark haired,
Rebellious, without care,

Without clothes. You sit
Fingering between toes,
Rubbing the finger between

Soft flesh, removing dirt.
Pierre may not show; he
Thinks you’re double-timing

Him with Napoleon, and
Calls you a slag and a flirt.
The nurses return mumbling

And cursing, smelling of urine
And shite fed up with the nursing.
They do not bother you; they walk

On by, smoking and swearing softly
Unconcerned with you, your ghosts
Or the clothes you’re not wearing.

© 2010 Terry Collett

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I remember saying to a psychiatrist once, "If I had a little imaginary friend named George, and I told you he was sitting next to me, would you have to write it down?" And he said, "yes." And I said, "Well, then I don't." I really didn't (nor did I dare hope!) but what interested me in that moment and in this poem is that perception is everything. If nothing is as it truly is, but the poem's protagonist thinks it is, then, well, isn't it? Isn't it? We see here the answer is yes - the shifting back and forth of point of view and real and imagined is brilliant here. Well done as always, Terry.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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Added on June 13, 2010
Last Updated on June 13, 2010


Terry Collett
Terry Collett

United Kingdom

Terry Collett has been writing since 1971 and published on and off since 1972. He has written poems, plays, and short stories. He is married with eight children and eight grandchildren. on January 27t.. more..