Poetry | the lovely one will come

so now the future’s sealed

by the plague outside the jar –

their faces mouthing               something


don’t you dare old-grey-mare me

our Flossie says          greying to

white except where the fags


her last pleasure left    have yellowed

that perm-frizzed bang            she’s

bright-eyed with that power-


glare we old ones use against

the wasting battery      oh yes but she’ll

refuse to join our off-key


singalongs       she’ll wheel

herself outside             & under eaves

fag in hand she’ll test her rhythmic


memory           she’s got a repertoire

to fill a school anthology

of favourite poems Beware! Beware!


His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

she warns the Aged Care visitors

& under rugs of clichéd granny


squares they’ve got us all lined up

docile – still as rocks – not true –

inside the darling shadows move


at different speeds

black floaties on our eyeballs

are not the only movie


we watch         we travel more

febrile than the fierce red dots           

on their monitors refusing still


to flatline

oh love you’ve had enough no

need to scrape your plate now


you can’t eat that picture dear

how many times do we have to strip

your beds        they pressure-hose


us on moulded shower chairs

to keep us in a semi-doze they watch

us like lice as we swallow


our meds then             they don’t

sometimes I think to them

we’re like that hunger artist I read


about way back when

unreadable bones

he becomes     just fiddlesticks


beneath the pile of straw

oh here’s an empty cage

the circus manager says


just right for this sleek young

panther – we’ll stick him in there


& then I’m almost glad


to float away

in the long twilight of

the senses        numbness rises


& rises             a swollen river

over snags & sharp detritus

what’s that thing the nightnurse


said I had in that wordburst

of his that leaves this skin black-

bruised & tore             got a handful


of words          not too many names

anymore          they don’t know where

I’m coming from        tucked away


in that crumpled place

crumpet place ha        want to

laugh but there’s no one here


to share the joke

about the sinkholes that swallow

all the names but I’m telling you


the lovely one will come

the one with blue-black hair

thick as coir-mat bristles


the one who pours

his dark molasses voice

through all these wards


& corridors & pulls my earphones

off       to ask how I am

today –

or was that yesterday?



Marion May Campbell

Marion’s most recent books are a memoir The Man on the Mantelpiece (UWAP, 2018) and a poetry collection third body (Whitmore Press, 2018). She now lives in Drouin, in Kurnai-Gunai country, with her two border collies.

More by Marion May Campbell ›

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