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Here are 3 of the poems from the project working in Mold Hospital, inspired by conversations with staff and terminally ill patients

This poem was inspired by the story an eighty year old woman told me, about the time her new baby had been taken very ill on Christmas Eve.   She took the baby to the doctor's but he wasn't there, so she ran out of the house and flagged down a random car driven by a man who had been buying holly





A sharp green smell of holly and fear

fills the car.  The windscreen a film of

extras: shoppers, women

with fistfuls of bags

 screaming blasphemy

at their dragging children.

They are not moving

fast enough out of the way.


Not moving.


Crowned by red berries,

 she weeps without knowing it,

rocking in the front of the car,

nursing her child’s tiny pulse.

 Drivers of other cars, also not moving,

stare as the car mounts pavements,

slices through crowds and bus lanes

and lay-bys and car parks.


It is not easy.

It takes all the driver’s manly skill.

He thinks about a surgeon’s knife

making necessary cuts through flesh.

 She promises long service to

any god that will listen.

“If you will only

show yourself now,


prove you are real,

once and for all.

It is Christmas, after all.

Surely this is a good time?”


The baby, still and wet, blushing blue in her lap.

The story ended happily; the woman told me with pride how her daughter (the baby girl in the poem) lived and was now working as a nursing sister.  But the elderly mother still cried when she told me the story.  Another poem inspired by a different story:



Driving her car,

she happened to be dreaming as

the wheel passed through

her practiced, gloved hands

(for this is a lady

who wears gloves)

of walking again

like a young girl.


The sound we have all imagined;

the pain we cannot;

the stupid face of the man

framed in her shattered

vision.  People kneeling to help.

She said, “Please

don’t cut my coat.  It is new,

from the Tweedmill.” 


Now, she will never wear it,

and she will not walk

the light walk of a

young girl again, even in

dreams.  This

made her old.

And another poem, from a woman who was full of optimism and joy at ninety:

Recipe For A Long Life


"Every day

read the paper

cover to

cover. Then

do the little target,

the small crossword,

two sudokus,

two alpha puzzles,

and the cryptic.

You’ll only finish Saturday’s,

because there is no Sunday paper.

And read.


Though I got fed up with

Catherine Cookson."

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