Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,291 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

No Real Faces 1940 - Poem by Terry Collett

I am pushed in a wheelchair
along a corridor
in the hospital
by one of the nurses.

Where are we going?
I ask, seemingly rushing
through blackness,
like a tunnel
with no ending.

Dr Symonds needs to see you,
a voice says from behind me,
soft breathy voice,
passing with me
through the dark spaces
of my blindness.

There are smells and sounds
around me,
voices bodiless
as if floating in air,
like ghosts not seen,
but there.

I am pushed into a room,
warm and cosy,
the voices go,
the pressure of the air changes,
and a voices says
out of the blackness,
Hello Grace,
how are you?

I stare towards the voice,
a deep man's voice,
the doctor's;
I sense him waiting for reply.

My legs hurt,
my toes itch,
but when I go to rub
or scratch them
they're not there,
no legs,
I say moodily,
clutching the sides
of the wheelchair.

Hands rest on my shoulders,
soft hands,
gently massaging.

That's understandable,
it happens often,
Dr Symonds says,
nerve endings,
the mind misunderstanding
ghostly messages
from limbs not there.

Will I ever walk again?
I ask the voice
unsure where
I am facing.

We will have to see
how matters develop,
how your stumps heal,
what is available
for your needs,
he says gently
but professionally.

He talks on,
but I cease to listen,
my mind is reaching out
for meaning,
for a sensibility,
for an escape
from his voice.

I want to go out
for dinner with Mr Kimberly,
I want to be out of here,
I'm going mad in here,
I say,
my voice stretching
its boundaries,
my fingers reaching
for a real contact.

Hands hold mine,
soft hands,
a nurse's,
they squeeze gently.

That would be good,
the doctor says,
but there may be
matters which he
may not be aware of,
simple things;
your stumps will of course
be well bandaged,
but day to day issues
may arise.

What issues?
What matters?
I say moodily.

Where is he taking you?
The doctor asks.

A restaurant he knows,
I reply.

How will he get you there?
Is the restaurant accessible
for a wheelchair?
And what will he do
if you have a call of nature
while there?
The doctor asks.

I stare at the space
of the voice,
my hands held tight
in my lap,
I feel I am sitting
awkwardly there
and move my bottom.

The nurse helps me
get comfortable,
then her hands leave me.

I don't know,
I reply,
I don't know anything
I seem like a child
in a dark room waiting
to be punished,
fearing shadows,

The doctor goes on
about matters,
about him seeing
and speaking with Philip,
and I feel a huge chasm
open beneath me,
my legs want to run,
to flee.

I grab my stumps
and feel for my legs
for the dancing limbs I had,
but they have gone,
and I stare
into the dark spaces,
seeing only ghostly voices
of the past,
but no real faces.

Topic(s) of this poem: war memories

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 23, 2016

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