I saw four old men, one old woman, one young lady.
Took their blood samples to pathology.
Brought them blood for transfusion.
Hey people, hey.
One old man, very heavy and fat, came out of the theatre asking for Lena Horne, wanting her in a turban.
The young lady brought me to absolute pity,
she was so strong and round,
she was smiling all the way on her journey
through the swing doors into theatre-sisters care.
Next to her in the ward an even younger lady with a sign over her bed of a plate crossed out
– not to be fed.
This was in vain her operation never happened that day, there were no nurses at all,
three operations cancelled.
When I saw those two young women under the white sheets waiting for the stretcher,
for the porters and nurses to wheel them into the surgeon’s hands in a six-hour operation,
my pity so intensified I was swimming in it.
What had they done to their lives?
Had they brought it on themselves,
or was it misfortune?
The two old men, there for examinations, climbed onto the stretchers
hiding their fears with a pride
smiling – as if life were a balloon
safe in a clean white sheet.
The old lady, blond, came out of her examination coughing painfully,
falling into sleep.
When we went for her she sat on the edge of the bed gave me a sympathetic smile.