4,000 miles away from my own doormat, after a long day of co-ordinating the salt in my nails with the sand in my teeth, I whisper “please, no letters” into my American pillow, as if there were anything it could possibly do to stop the consultant, to stop the admin clerk, to stop the sorting office staff, to stop the postman, to stop time.
don’t refer me to a surgeon,
refer me to a good friend.
give me a letter urging me
to go to the pub immediately.
don’t refer me to the hospital,
refer me to jack daniels.
after all, he is a specialist
in these things.
don’t refer me to a doctor
refer me to my boyfriend
send me home to do nothing
just refer me back to bed.
like IV wire
like attached to a drip
like blood transfusion
like being tethered
like being trapped
like not at work
like not 2016
I don’t feel like I’ve
beaten anything. I don’t
feel victorious. I feel
tired in a way
that sleeping won’t remedy.
It never ends,
it just subsides.
I had another bad dream
about hospitals and cancer last night.
But at least my dress has flowers on it.
Whoever said nothing bad can
happen while you’re asleep
was wrong. Nightmares can happen.
The past can happen, again and again.
The future can happen – every version of it.
Then when you wake up it can all come true,
or not, or you could live out a version of
reality you had never even thought of.
Better or worse. Suspense without the thrill.
Sleep is your worst fiction. Reality is
even more of a nightmare.
It never ends.
The first time my partner saw it he asked me why I was wearing a curtain, but I loved it anyway. It was huge – long and wide like a pashmina, but thin, and it was such great quality. It had a patchwork of different coloured squares with pattern overlay, shiny and silky on one side and matt on the other. Blues, reds, greens, oranges, yellows. Maybe that was the start of a love affair with multi-coloured things. A time when I stopped declaring blue or purple or red as my favourite colour (I can’t even remember what my favourite colour was), and started loving all colours in equal measure, and all at once.
That scarf was special. I loved it like I had never loved any other scarf, and I’ll probably never find a true replacement for it. I could gather it up and use it like a regular scarf, or wrap it around my shoulders, fold my arms into it and get lost inside that rainbow of comfort. It was like a blanket I could take with me anywhere. So in January 2010 when I wasn’t well and had to go to the doctors, I wore it.
I remember standing in my bedroom wondering if I should take it or not – I can so vividly remember the spot I was standing in, looking down at the heap of clothes on the floor, and debating on whether or not to wear it. I really wish I had decided not to.
But I did take it. Which meant when the doctor told me to go to A&E, I was wearing it. And when I was taken up to a bed on the ward, I had it. And when my parents took some of my things to the car out of the way, they had it. And then they didn’t have it. It wasn’t in the car, in the A&E ward, or anywhere in between.
Calls to the hospital afterwards yielded nothing. Nothing in the lost and found. I looked on the internet for another one but the shop didn’t sell them anymore. It was from Tie Rack. I even emailed them to ask if there was any hope of getting another one somehow. I sent them a picture: Have you seen this scarf? Can you help me get another one? Nothing.
There are similar ones out there, and I have one sitting somewhere at my parents’ house. It’s nice. But it’s nowhere near the same. It feels like a cheap copy. And I haven’t felt the same way about another scarf since.
Sure, there is my winter USA scarf – stars on one side, stripes on the other. Stars and stripes and hopes and home. And my cosy red snood I got from my Secret Santa at work last year. But nothing else feels the same as that multi-coloured scarf did.
I’m beginning to think that scarf holds some kind of metaphorical meaning. And maybe if I did somehow become reunited with it after the five years it’s been missing, I still wouldn’t feel the same. Even if it was the very one I lost, it still wouldn’t make up for all the time in between. Because so much has changed.
I don’t even know why I still think about it sometimes, but I always seem to go back to thinking about that damn scarf.
The printer beeps with every
button pushed and I know it’s
the printer but that steady sound
makes me feel like I’m in a hospital.
I don’t feel like I’m in a hospital,
I feel like I’m in hospital
and now I’m trapped and bound
by a memory,
so severe it rips me from here
and deposit me elsewhere
where medical machinery beeps.
Written on Friday 19th December 2014 at 22:44
Not when they put it in
Not when it pierces the skin
Not when you know this is just the beginning.
There must be something funny here.
But no; affix that blank expression to your face,
remove all trace of human. No-one must know
you’re actually feeling something.
Not without getting rid of this
and even then, you never really leave
this place, this bed, this mess
inside your head.
Not with this,
not without remembering,
not without wincing and covering
the crooks of your elbows
(was it the crook of the elbow?
It is hard to remember, my brain is
trying to protect me that much.
Always, and probably too much.
give me another cannula, please?
I had to go for a CT scan today. So, that’s what this was. (Written yesterday in “anticipation”.)