Nightingale 2020. A poem by Helen McCarthy

She switched off the strip light
And turned on the lamp
Her split shoe crushed at the heel
Spewing ragged leather
But polished.
She searched for your song
On cassette by your bed
She failed and exasperated
Turned back to you
Her limp mask slipping
Blue black cheeks ashy
Hands denim creased
And dry from washing.
She patted you
Smoothing you
And in a loosely knitted language
Of knots and coarse loops
She sang you out softly
All the while watching and counting
Your cracked breaths
Holding back bedfolds
For me with my needle
She nodded
Still singing
And in that universal language
Older than race
She took leave of you
For your shut-out family
And for her own
Another number
In a graph on TV
And when your struggle ended
She straightened her plastic apron
And noticed again the buzzers outside.
She stood and opened the window
Releasing your soul.
Godspeed she said
Amen she said
And maybe the birds
Waking up and starting to sing
In that pale space between night and day
Witnessed your free spirit
Fly home 
Bio & Link
I am an advanced nurse practitioner in Bristol

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