Infirmary Procedures

The hospital presents itself as gallery.
Stairs diagonalise its healing curves.
Light shatters through skeletal glass,
bursts its bones on polished floors,
is held congealing in the promised air.

It’s art is on the move amongst
meetings with consultants, therapies,
investigations, surgeries. All these are now
its instruments, its measured calls to action –
to correct, reverse, repair, alleviate.

But still it’s hard to guess the healing wings
that gather behind blank walls, the
lives that save and ebb away.
From wards and treatment rooms come trucks
of linen, with their mute attendants.

A patient pinioned to a bed, his life
attached through clips and tubes,
is pushed towards a scheduled procedure.
His empty eyes sweep passing strangers
to the walls. Nurses in blue, beige

and white flock and fluster at their stations
while patience waits the summons of its name
from lists. Escaping traumas and conditions,
more hide beneath their pale anxieties,
in eateries with simple snacks and tea.

Prosthetic city – where life hangs on
beneath a mask; where bags and cases
conceal results of tests, or just
a surgeon’s lunch; where people soon enough
are taken to their fates and choices.

Outside, its buildings fuse modern
to a pinnacled Victoriana; and in the street
beyond the railings, staff gather
at their smoking points, to show some confidence
in health to those who wait inside.