Love Letter to the NHS by Emma Ireland

to the doctors,
the nurses, the porters,
the cleaners, the old folk who
volunteer at hospital junctions
asking if you know where you need to be,
to the woman who says
hey
i have something special for you
to my husband who is on a restricted diet in
bed 4, handing him a plastic tub of liquidised banana
as though it were chocolate cake, and i take a
picture of it so i can get it put on a
keyring later for march 15th, which is not
valentine’s day to anyone except us
probably;
to the midwives
the one who told me it was
too soon for an epidural, and the one who –
three hours after – told me it was too late, but held my hand while i
pushed out every vile and nasty word i know; to the
medical student standing looking terrified
behind her, trying to make small talk
in between contractions
yes
i am from round here
no
i don’t come here often; to the
surgeon who addresses you as though he’s
known you all your life and not thirty seconds, leaning across the
bed rails with no concept of personal space, although i guess if you’re about to
rearrange a person’s insides you get to waive the formalities, and i
think: this man will know what parts of me i’ve never even
seen myself
look like;
to the newspaper trolley guy
squeaking up and down the wards
who tells us: i knew you wouldn’t buy anything, for i
never met a man with a pretty girl at his bedside
yet
who bought a magazine; to the
receptionist on the surgical assessment unit
answering telephones with one hand while trying to find
beds for the trollies piling up by her desk but who still eeks out the
time to tell me where the toilets are; to the
nurses who do all the things
most of us never could, and who do them with
kindness and humour, who clean up
shit and piss and vomit daily
daily
and get food bank vouchers in return; to the
junior doctors
– the one who walked into the
sea and never came back, the one with
bags where his laughter lines should be, the one who’s seen
far too much too often to ever have
junior
anywhere in her
job description – telling my husband she is
sorry
sorry that he is in pain
sorry that it took a while to fetch the morphine
sorry that he has been waiting so long, sorry that he’ll have to
wait a while longer, because the specialist is tied up with
somebody else at the moment, but can she
fetch us anything in the meantime?
tea?
coffee?
water?
and i want to tell her
to tell them, every single person who
shows up to work each day and even on the days they
don’t, on the days it is too
hard, too much
when it is stay home or break down, to
all of those who help keep us safe, keep us alive, i want to
say:
don’t be sorry
that i am the one who is sorry
sorry that you have to make apologies to hurt and
angry people for things that are not your fault, sorry that the
vultures responsible for this mess are busy trying to turn against you
all of those for whom you give your lives, when you are
dog-tired, when you are
drained, when you are empty and when you are
filled with despair, i am sorry
that you are not and could never be
paid your worth, for your worth cannot be counted in
money alone, but i am sorry that they don’t even try to do that
i am sorry
that there are times your families get the worst of you
because you exhausted the best
on us
even when we don’t
deserve it, even when we don’t
appreciate it, even though we can
never know how much it
cost you, i am
so
sorry
but you are not alone
we do not all believe the lies peddled to us by
those who stand to gain from your suffering, there are
those of us who see and will not stop seeing, who know and will not stop
knowing, will not stop
fighting
nye bevan’s children
every one of us
but maybe harry keen said it best
that they might try to hold it under water till the
bubbles stop rising, but the bubbles will
never
stop rising
we
will never
stop
rising.

From: https://proletarianpoetry.com/2018/05/25/love-letter-to-the-nhs-by-emma-ireland/

Date: 2018

By: Emma Ireland (196?- )

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