Views Described and Imagined
Evening visit. Western Infirmary.
Trauma Unit. Level 8.
The slowest lift in all the world.
The slowest lift, in all the world.
Your ward room has a glorious view –
the soot-smudged tower of Glasgow Uni
licked by mid-September sun.
The previous scene was even better –
Clydeside cranes like Martian machines;
War of the Worlds, an unexpected,
crimson, cloudless, stripped-down sky.
You have to depend on me to report
the things you need to know are there.
Six billion lives just like before,
no one bothering all that much.
The TV in your room doesn’t work,
all that you get is the video screen.
A Perfect World with Kevin Costner.
Sands of Iwo Jima, John Wayne.
A patient in an opposite bed,
out of her box, lost in space,
is wailing Danny! Danny! Where are you?,
seeing us from another place.
Another place, sounds quite nice.
A perfect world, sounds quite nice.
They’ll shut her down
when it’s time to sleep.
No one bothering all that much.
I ask you if it’s alright if I go ten minutes early
because we’re playing Germany tonight
in a make-or-break qualifier
and I’d like to make the Big Screen kick-off
in the Big Screen kick-off pub
with a big selection of beers on tap,
and you say Of course son
and I hope your team wins
and I’ll see you tomorrow.
And Scotland are losing and the pub is full
of people I’ll eventually never see again
and the screen is veiled by slow grey smoke
and a laughing German
is escorted from the premises,
and it’s all increasingly small
and I can’t really make you out
as I think of you alone in your head
and I wish I could have those ten minutes back.
I remember, suddenly, the gold stain
that appeared on a summer’s evening
on the brand new rug that you loved.
And we took turns at trying to lift it out
with none of us owning up
as you took a fit, and dad sat in silence
with Songs of Praise in the background.
And we scrubbed, rubbed and hammered
with suds and water, and watched
with rising disbelief as nothing, nothing
had the slightest effect until, suddenly,
as quietly as it had appeared, the gold
winked out, and we saw
it had only been a patch of sun, only
a leaf of light, a trick, and we laughed,
and it was never ours to destroy or create.
Copyright © Graham Fulton 2018