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Terry Collett Mar 2016
I'm outside in the wheelchair,
sitting facing the sun,
my blind eyes sense,
but do not see the light.

My leg stumps
are covered by a blanket,
I am tucked up
neat and tight
like a parcel.

Hello, Grace,
a voice says to my right.

It's Guy.

I smell him,
the scent he wears
is overpowering.

Hello, Guy,
how are you?

I hear him take a chair
and sit beside me.

I am fine, but busy,
******'s being
a pest in France,
and hush hush work
in progress.

He is silent;
his hand touches mine.

Enough of me,
how are you?

I am unsettled,
I say,
my legs ache
and the stumps are sore.

How are they
treating you?
He asks.

Very well,
but I am impatient,
depressed,
want answers where
there are none,
ask questions,
but know the answers
before I ask.

How do you manage?
He asks.

I am getting there,
slowly, but surely,
I reply.

His hand rubs mine gently.
It reminds me
of Clive's hand on mine
that night he stayed
and we ended up
making love in my bed.  

I miss that.

Making love.

Clive dead,
killed in Dunkirk.

How's Donald?

He is busy,
Gus says,
can't say what
he is doing,
hush hush stuff.

I see, I say,
although don't.

Philip is in the States;
he hasn't forgotten you,
Guy says,
he will take you out
for dinner once
he is back.

I can't imagine
going out for dinner;
people watching me
being wheeled into
a restaurant with no legs
and blind,
them staring,
and me unable to know
if they are looking
and what they
are wondering.

Guy talks on,
but I am
thinking of Clive,
of his kisses,
of his body
against mine,
seeing it in my mind,
even though
I am blind.
A WOMAN IN HOSPITAL VISITED BY A FRIEND IN 1940 IN LONDON.
Terry Collett Feb 2016
I wake up in a panic,
but it is still darkness
my blind eyes see,
having dreamed I saw
my garden at my house,
but then it dawns on me
that the house was bombed,
and as I feel for my legs,
I realize the stumps are there
and the legs gone.

I lie on the pillow
and stare into darkness,
listening to the sounds around:
voices, calls, bedpans
being used, footsteps,  
wheelchair(needing oiling)
going by the bottom of my bed.

I smell disinfect and *****,
and perfume, and ointment.

Morning, Grace, a nurse says
to me on my right, how are
you this morning?

I dreamt I was in my garden
and saw the flowers
and the apple tree
and woke up to darkness
and depression, I say,
staring towards her voice,
trying to give an impression
I could see her.

Yes, that happens to those
who have seen before
they lost their sight,
the nurse says softly.

She lifts up my nightdress
and I feel her fingers
touch the bandages
on my stumps,
her fingers moving
over them.

They still hurt,
I say,
still painful, despite
the medication.

I know, Grace, they can
only take off the
edge of pain,
but they will get better
as time heals the wounds
and the stumps
seal up properly,
the nurse says.

Another nurse comes
on my left and says:
there was a jam factory
got bombed last night
and some of the girls
who worked there
got horribly burnt
by hot boiling sugar and jams.

Yes, I heard,
the nurse on my right says.

I lie and sink into
a deep hole of self-pity,
listening to the talking
as they unwrap my bandages
and finger the stumps.

As they touch me,
I think of Clive,
that night he first
made love to me,
his kisses, and him
lying between my thighs
and me sensing him
within me and the bed
moving beneath us
as if on a vast sea of pleasure
and we on a small craft
moving up and down
and him kissing my lips
and ear and head.

Now he is dead.

The nurses touch my stumps,
then clean them and wash them
and bandage them up again,
all the time talking around me
of the jam factory blast
and girls burnt
and some dying,
and I lie here
gently crying.
A BLIND WOMAN WAKE SUP IN HOSPITAL IN 1940.
Terry Collett Feb 2016
A nurse wheels me out
into the sun and fresh air;
I feel it on my face,
sense the sunlight
on my blinded eyes,
darkness unenlightened.

If you need me Grace,
just call out,
the nurse says,
and is gone off back
to the hospital ward.

I look around me
seeing nothing,
but trying to give
the impression that I can,
that I am not blind.

I listen intensely,
never thought
I would ever listen
so much to every sound
that came my way.

I am wrapped in a blanket;
my leg stumps
well bandaged.

I reach down
with my right hand,
feeling where the legs end;
feel a shock each time
that I have become
shorter than ever
after the bomb fell
and that was it:
my life changed forever,
blind and legless.

I sit and put my hand
back in my lap.

Voices come from nearby,
other patients maybe,
nurses or doctors or visitors.

I feel a prisoner
of my disabilities;
locked in my body;
unable to go to the loo
or bathroom unaided;
unable to see the beauty
of the flowers
in the grounds.

When the nurses
blanket bathed me
this morning it felt
oddly sensual:
hands moving
over my body,
fingers washing
between my own fingers,
my leg stumps lifted
and cleaned
and re-bandaged gently;
voices between them
in conversation,;
my body tingling
by the touches.

I recalled Clive in 1938
moving his hands over me
that evening he stayed
and we made love;
his voice in my ear,
his lips on mine,
his fingers touching me
all over and in soft places.

Now all gone,
no kisses,
he dead,
no more faces.
A WOMAN IN HOSPITAL IN 1940 BLIND AND LEGLESS AND HER THOUGHTS.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
I am lying on the bed,
the nurses are washing me
down and all over,

I feel the wetness
on my skin,

their hands and flannels
move over me,

I see nothing but darkness,
hear their voices
to each other,

chats about this and that,
of a bombing last night
and causalities,
and about that sailor
whom one had met,
and what he wanted to do,
but she saying;
I'm not that
sort of  girl,

they wash over
my leg stumps gently,
touching softly,
easing the stumps up
and washing them,

and I feel as if
they are whole legs,
but they aren't,
just stump which
hurt and pain me,

how are you, Grace?
one asks me,
her voice kind
and soft spoken,

in pain and depressed,
I say,
wanting to reach out
and feel their hands
and touch their faces,

but don't,
my hands lie idle
beside me
like deserting troops
in midst of battle.

Now they dry me with towels
ever so gently,

one talks to me
of seeing the doctor,
some advice,
some insight,

but I'm elsewhere now,
thinking of Clive
back in 1938,

and that time
we stayed out late
and he stayed
at my place,

and we made love
in my bed,
and like some captive prisoner
(even though dead)
he resides still,
inside my
lying down head.
A BLIND AND LEGLESS WOMAN IN A LONDON HOSPITAL IN 1940 ATTENDED BY NURSES.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Hello Grace
someone says
I listen

struggling
through darkness
and my pain

to try and
recognize
who it is

it's me Jean
the voice says
turning round

to the sound
I reach out
to touch her

feel her hand
she holds mine
her fingers

rubbing mine
how are you?
her voice asks

are you ok
outside here
in the grounds

I hate it
inside there
on the ward

of that dark
hospital
I tell her

I hear her
bring a chair
and sit down

next to me
I'm fine here
she replies

weather's warm
the skies blue
she pauses

how are you?
I feel left
in the dark

and legless
I reply
you still have

your humour
I can see
I'm silent

for a moment
smelling her
taking in

her perfume
that smells good
I tell her

what smells good?
your perfume
its is called

Primitif
Max Factor
she replies

I have none
all mine went
in the blast

but a nurse
has lent me
a bottle

I utter
I reach down
seeing if

my nightgown
covers up
my leg stumps

now bandaged
Jean's silent
possibly

horrified
at the sight
of me there

with no legs
and no sight
when she knows

I loved to
go dancing
and go see

the ballets
now nothing
but darkness

sitting here
in this chair
(a wheelchair)

do they hurt?
she asks me
all the time

I have drugs
but the pain
comes through it

I reply
I'm sorry
she utters

don't be please
I don't want
the pity

I just want
my friends back
as they were

not just come
to see me
as I am

like some freak
I utter
harder than

I meant to
her two hands
now grip mine

you're no freak
she whispers
your our Grace

without legs
or your sight
still our Grace

there's quiet
as if God
had turned off

all the sounds
of His world
no bird song

no traffic
no breeze near
no breathing

then I say
I want life
want to live

have children
be a wife
believe it

and you will
Jean replies
bird song's back

and traffic
as if God
had turned on

all the sounds
of His world
and I am

in this dark
and darkness
as if hurled.
A WOMAN IS VISITED IN HOSPITAL BY A FRIEND IN 1940.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
I am pushed in a wheelchair
along a corridor
in the hospital
by one of the nurses.

Where are we going?
I ask, seemingly rushing
through blackness,
like a tunnel
with no ending.

Dr Symonds needs to see you,
a voice says from behind me,
soft breathy voice,
passing with me
through the dark spaces
of my blindness.

There are smells and sounds
around me,
voices bodiless
as if floating in air,
like ghosts not seen,
but there.

I am pushed into a room,
warm and cosy,
the voices go,
the pressure of the air changes,
and a voices says
out of the blackness,
Hello Grace,
how are you?

I stare towards the voice,
a deep man's voice,
the doctor's;
I sense him waiting for reply.

My legs hurt,
my toes itch,
but when I go to rub
or scratch them
they're not there,
gone,
no legs,
I say moodily,
clutching the sides
of the wheelchair.

Hands rest on my shoulders,
soft hands,
gently massaging.

That's understandable,
it happens often,
Dr Symonds says,
nerve endings,
the mind misunderstanding
ghostly messages
from limbs not there.

Will I ever walk again?
I ask the voice
unsure where
I am facing.

We will have to see
how matters develop,
how your stumps heal,
what is available
for your needs,
he says gently
but professionally.

He talks on,
but I cease to listen,
my mind is reaching out
for meaning,
for a sensibility,
for an escape
from his voice.

I want to go out
for dinner with Mr Kimberly,
I want to be out of here,
I'm going mad in here,
I say,
my voice stretching
its boundaries,
my fingers reaching
for a real contact.

Hands hold mine,
soft hands,
a nurse's,
they squeeze gently.

That would be good,
the doctor says,
but there may be
complications,
matters which he
may not be aware of,
simple things;
your stumps will of course
be well bandaged,
but day to day issues
may arise.

What issues?
What matters?
I say moodily.

Where is he taking you?
The doctor asks.

A restaurant he knows,
I reply.

How will he get you there?
Is the restaurant accessible
for a wheelchair?
And what will he do
if you have a call of nature
while there?
The doctor asks.

I stare at the space
of the voice,
my hands held tight
in my lap,
I feel I am sitting
awkwardly there
and move my bottom.

The nurse helps me
get comfortable,
then her hands leave me.

I don't know,
I reply,
I don't know anything
anymore,
I seem like a child
in a dark room waiting
to be punished,
fearing shadows,
voices.

The doctor goes on
about matters,
about him seeing
and speaking with Philip,
and I feel a huge chasm
open beneath me,
my legs want to run,
to flee.

I grab my stumps
and feel for my legs
for the dancing limbs I had,
but they have gone,
and I stare
into the dark spaces,
seeing only ghostly voices
of the past,
but no real faces.
A WOMAN IN HOSPITAL IN 1940 AND THE DOCTOR WHO QUESTIONS HER ABOUT GOING OUT.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
Voices around me
and I try to sit up
and it isn't easy

I have to balance myself
so that my stumps
are just so
or I'll fall back
on the bed

my hands steady me
in the darkness

I try and feel
just where in the bed I am
searching with my hand
while my other hand
steadies me

I make sure I'm not
too near the edge of the bed
and wait listening

a nurse comes
I hear her clothes swish
did you need something Grace?
she says

I reach out to touch her
a call of nature
I say
is the commode this side
I can't remember or see?

she touches my hand
other side Grace

since my blindness
I lose my direction
I say

wait there a moment
she says
and I hear her go off

I sit balancing
at the side of the bed
staring into darkness
hearing sounds

I sense the need to go more
and begin to panic

here we are Grace
another voice says

and they lift me between them
to the other side of the bed
and arranging my nightdress
they lift me onto the commode
and sit me down
and arrange me so I'm comfortable

hold onto the handles
at the side
a voice says
call us when you want us back
another voice says

I hear them walk off
the shush of the uniforms
and steps of their shoes

I sit and listen
and stare at the darkness
and try and think
of something to distract
my mind from the business at hand

I think of the last time
I saw Clive before he left
to join the army in late 1939
how we kissed
and that last time
we made love in my place
and Sally(my maid) was out
as it was her night off
and it was wonderful
and we lay there afterward
and smoked and talked
about the war and after
and what we would do

now what would he
have said or done had
he not been killed at Dunkirk?
the last time I had *** that was

I muse on that
and feel depressed
and want to see again
and walk and dance

I get choked up
and suddenly
I am aware where I am
and why and quietly
softly I cry.
AN AMPUTEE AND BLIND WOMAN IN HOSPITAL IN 1940 REALIZED THE IMPLICATIONS OF HER PRESENT LIFE.
Terry Collett Jan 2016
A gentleman
brought these clothes
in for you Grace
Nurse Kavel says

what clothes?
what gentleman?
I ask
sitting up in the bed
on the ward

new dress and underclothes
and I think he said his name
was Philip Kimberly
Nurse Kavel says

I smell perfume
and disinfect mixed
I hear voices around me

is he here?
I ask

no he brought these
in early this morning
while you were asleep
the nurse says

what colour is the dress?
I ask

red with flowers
and where he got it from
I have no idea
the cost in coupon points  
must have been a lot I guess
the nurse says

where is it?
I ask

I hear her nearby
and she places a dress
in my lap
I feel it and touch
the material with my fingers

I can't see the colour
I say
what kind of red?

blood red and white flowers
she says

I put the dress to my cheek
and sense its softness
and feel the quality

is it nice?
I ask

it's beautiful
the nurse says near me

did he say when
he was coming again?
I ask
wondering what Philip
looked like how he dressed
I only knew his voice
and that was all

he will be in later
to arrange when
to take you out
although he wants to speak
with Dr Symonds first
about you and any risks
I sense doubt in her voice

will I be allowed out to dinner?
I ask

we will make sure the stumps
of your legs are well bandaged
and you are presentable
she says

what's he look like?

Mr Kimberly?

yes I've not seen him before
I say

he's handsome
and well dressed
she says softly

she takes the dress
from my hands
I’ll put the dress away
in your cupboard for safety
she says

and I hear her walk away
and lay there
staring into darkness
hearing voices in the ward
wondering where
he will take me for dinner
and how I will cope in public
without legs or sight
like walking into the coldness
of an out there night.
A BLIND WOMAN IN HOSPITAL IN 1940 AND A NEW DRESS..
Terry Collett Jan 2016
It is still dark on the ward
when I open my eyes

I hear voices
hear moans and groans
some far off
some near

I need to ***
and wonder where
the commode is
is it near?

I sit up in the bed
and push back
the sheet and blankets
and using my hands
move myself to the edge
of the bed
and stare into the dark
space ahead of me

I put out my right hand
and search about me
(my left hand balancing me
on the edge of the bed)

my leg stumps bandaged
are aching
and this makes me anxious
as I encounter a bedside cabinet
and a water jug and class

Grace what are you doing?
a voice says to my left

I try and find
where she is
who has spoken to me
who are you?
I ask

Nurse Kavel
she says
her voice concerned but soft
you should not be on the edge
so fragile as you are
what did you want?
she asks again

I'm searching for the commode
I need to ***
I say

the commode
is on the other side of the bed
she says
but surely you're not
thinking of doing it alone?

I need to ***
I say

and with no legs
how was you proposing
to get on the commode?
she says
her voice more concerned

I didn't think of how
I just felt the need
I say

even if you managed
to get on the commode
how did you propose
to pull up your nightgown
at the same time as sitting?
she says

I reach out to touch her
and she grabs
my hand with hers

careful if you fall
off the edge you will
hit the floor and God knows
what damage you will do
she says

I turn toward the voice
and try to imagine
what she looks like

I am desperate to ***
I say

all right
she says
wait there
and I hear her footsteps go off

there is still
other voices and sounds
and far off someone cries

I smell disinfect
and ***** and bodies

I hear footsteps return
and she says
sit still
and I feel
her hands lift me
into a wheelchair
(she seems strong
or I am light as a doll)
and settles me down

she says
right I will wheel you
to the toilets
to give you privacy

and off we go in the darkness
I feel as if I'm going
through space
on an adventure
into a deeper darkness
and just hope I get there
before I explode
my wee like a ****
pushed aside
by a harsh sea.
A BLIND WOMAN WHO IS ALSO AN AMPUTEE IN HOSPITAL IN LONDON IN 1940
K Alexys Oct 2015
My heart,
Once, you allowed me hope
Boundaries of love
I never thought could be broken.
Now...
You've taken me hostage
The misery you inflict is worse than recovery

I push you down
I still feel you underneath
Hurting me
There's just no running from what I feel
You've become my burden
The Pain became too real

I have to cut you off and let you go.
I'll survive without you
But with you, I won't.

I can't do what you once allowed me to.
I'll adjust to life without you.

Goodbye love,
Goodbye heartache.
Surgeon be my only artist.
Cut this heart away
I'm tired of falling.
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