FIRTS BATH 1940 | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Poem - Introspective Bookmark and Share


We had just made love,
then turned on our backs,
and lit up cigarettes,
staring at the ceiling,
where shadows
from the streets lamp
made patterns.

Why must you
join the army, Clive?

There's war coming,
and I want to be there
to push Hitler back,
Clive said.

But why you?
Why not someone else?

Grace I cannot sit back
and let others defend us,
he said.

But you're intelligent,
you could work
in the war effort
in other ways,
I said.  

I don't want to do
espionage work,
I want to fight,
he said.

We lay there smoking,
and now and then
talking about
the coming war,
and afterwards
about marriage
and family.

Grace, Grace,
a voice calls me,
mind you don't slip
in the bath.

I look to where
the voice comes from.


Don't slip in the bath,
not easy balancing
with just two leg stumps,
the voice said.

I move side to side carefully,
sensing the water
about me;
it's the nurse,  
but I cannot see her,
my blind eyes
just stare in her direction.

Must have been daydreaming,
I say.

Your first proper bath
since before you
were bombed out,
she says.

Yes, it is,
I say,
sponging my breasts
over with soapy water.

How are the stumps healing?
I say.

Well, they're doing well,
the doctors are happy
with them.

They still hurt,
I say.

They will for a while,
the nurse says.

I'll be an old maid now;
no one will want to marry
a legless blind woman
like me,
I say.

The nurse sighs,
now I don't think
that is true,
that Mr Kimberly
seems struck on you.

What good would I do him?
I'd be a burden,
and I don't want anyone
to marry me out of pity.

The nurse is quiet.

I sit balancing
as I sponge between my legs.

There is pity,
and there is love,
she says.

I don't know what
he looks like,
and how can I ever
bring a child
in the world
blind as I am,
and without legs?
I say.

If you want to
you can, and will,
she says firmly.

She takes the sponge
from my hand
and washes my back
and around my neck.

I think what for?
What the heck.

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