On the Ward by Stephen Claughton

 On the Ward

On the geriatric ward,
everyone makes sense
of their own reality.

That man’s name being called
over and over again
isn’t going to bring anyone back.

The woman singing songs
thinks she’s in a pub
on which time was called years ago.

Your neighbour I thought was sane
now tells me her father’s coming
(she’s eighty if she’s a day).

And you, Mum. How are you?
Not in such a good place.
You seem agitated today.

“Swirling!” you say — and, “Dark!”
grasping the sides of the bed,
as if something’s sucking you in.

Will waking you make it worse?
Are you actually asleep?
It’s hard to tell these days.

I lean over to clasp your hand,
though I know you’re out of reach
and way beyond rescue now.

Stephen Claughton’s second pamphlet, The 3-D Clock, from which this poem has been taken, is due to be published by Dempsey & Windle in March this year. It contains poems about his late mother’s dementia and will be launched at a D&W Showcase reading at the Poetry Café in London on Thursday, 21st May. His first pamphlet, The War with Hannibal, was published by Poetry Salzburg in October 2019.

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