The Friday Poem on 08/04/22
We chose ‘Waiting with Leszek’ by June Wentland to be this week’s Friday Poem because the use of that central metaphor — hospital as ship, as introduced by the narrator’s fellow passenger Leszek — allows for such creativity. The poem taps into and recreates that familiar sense of entering a place where things go at their own pace, and run to their own schedules; the rules are different and we don’t know what they are. In ten unfussy, controlled couplets Wentland gives us surreal and discomfiting imagery and pervading sense of anxiety. It’s neatly done, and we like it.
Waiting with Leszek
This hospital is a strange place,
he tells us. It’s a ship that sails.
He’s not sure if intent is there or not:
a liner responding to schedules
or a nurse driven mad by over work —
releasing wards onto the waves.
Either way he seems to think it strange
but — strangely — not too strange
and wonders at our own incredulity.
We’re torn between the wish to believe —
to scour the hospital for evidence
and find it beached — a plimsoll line
marked clearly on the bricks,
determined limpets suckered tight
to ground floor windows. The song
of mermaids, sweet and treacherous
from Car Park D or we must accept
the stormier side. Anxious
about loose moorings, lost bearings,
we wait for the next high tide.