Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011

Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England


Passing time on a Ward

fluorescent tube
modifies green wall paint
ward clock broken

Slit in her blue flower-covered curtain. Line of black on her pyjama top. Feet tap to canned music. Different levels of television colours flicker through. Shutter eyes image life outside. Only for a short time. Today nurses are easy. Passing time on a Ward.

dull colour movement —
crisscross footsteps encircle
pre fixed action plan

From neat empty bed next to her is soon occupied. 3am. Soon everyone wakes up. Paperwork shuffle. Soon heavy moans. Curtains closed. Soon he is snoring. Paperwork incomplete. Heart monitor races racing hearts. Strength of his snores soon punctures our sleep. Out of sight small packs of nurses socialise with deep underground sounds.

last tones of night
flatulent patient
expresses delight

6am. Sister gives out drugs. "Date of birth? Correct. Prize is yours." With a compromised smile she checks notes. "They know what they are doing. Look at uniform colours," she says. Way pills are swallowed is a litmus test. We Trust.

innocent fledgling
whatever offered
is doe-eyed accepted

This is an appropriate place. Being treated appropriately. Passing time in appropriate ways. An occasional question. "Do they ever get in a muddle. I mean, a pre-menstrual muddle? You read about that kind of thing. It can make someone forget they left their baby in a pushchair in a Supermarket in that muddle that can end with an unpaid skirt slipping into a shopping bag. Have read about it. Seen it on TV. It does happen." That is not far from a mistake with drugs. She watches them. Check number, colour, dosage.

blue power curtain
inside a near white disguise
outside snow looks warm

Overweight youngster still snores, unaware how he passes our time. Her feet still tap. When will doctors arrive? And supper? And when can I go home? Why does this Consultant look like a clear-out merchant? Is he paid by number of empty beds per Ward per day? Half watch him uplift responses to jostling Juniors. Listen with listless eyes how his voice withholds from me. Then: "He can go." Follow-up Consultant says, "No he can't. Not today."

wait for clothes to dry
Cardio something results
hang out of balance


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