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Terry Collett Aug 2019
Grace felt down
to feel her
two leg stumps;

her legs had
been cut off
or what was

left of them
once the bomb
had done its

worse during
the London
blitz. She felt

bandages,
felt the pain,
wriggled her

toes not there,
tried to think
them still there,

but they were
no longer
there, just space

where they were.
Grace couldn't
see, she was

blind; no sight
to see legs
not there now,

unable
to go ***
unaided;

that's what it
felt like to
her being

down graded.
Terry Collett Apr 2018
They had unbandaged
her leg stumps.

Her blind eyes
saw only darkness.

She could hear their voices
and feel their fingers
and air on bare flesh.

She lay on her back
trying to make sense
of their words.

One spoke of healing
and another of measuring
for artificial limbs.

One voice
sounded Irish.

A young nurse
she assumed.

She replied to questions
they asked.

She lay there
quite exposed.

She wondered
if her maid
had suffered
in the bombing.

Clive whom she loved
and made love to
had died at Dunkirk
the year before.

One voice became distant
then disappeared.

The nurse(she assumed)
was attending the stumps.

Grace stared into
the blackness and heard
on the ward other
voices on the air.

She seemed
embraced
by the cold arms
of despair.
Terry Collett Sep 2017
After the wedding and small reception
Philip carries Grace over the threshold
of their new home. Iris the maid comes
behind them ready to help set Grace on

to her legs again.  He sets Grace down
carefully with Iris's help. Grace stands on
her artificial legs balancing herself. They
walk into the lounge, Philip guiding her

along as her blind eyes stare into the room.
Wish I could see the room. Wish I could
see Philip and Iris. Philip takes Grace to
the settee and she sits down slowly. A home

again. Hope this one doesn't get bombed.
Well Grace you are home again, Philip says.
Yes, its good to be out of hospital and in
a new home, she says. He takes her hand.

Want you to know this is your new home
forever, he says. New home. I'll never see
it or him. Where's Iris? She says. She's putting
your clothes away in our bedroom, he says.

Bedroom. Bed. And he will want to make
love to me tonight. How will he be when
he sees me naked and legless? He's seen my
stumps, but never naked and half a woman.

She grabs his hand tight. You have never seen
me naked, what will you think when you see
me without clothes and legless? Will you really
want to make love to me? He leans in close

to her. Of course I will, I love you, Grace,
he says softly. But I am only half a woman,
a blind one too. She cries. He hugs her closer
to him. She can sense him near. You are a complete

woman to me, he says. Iris comes running into
the room. What's up? She says, going across to them.
Grace is worried about tonight, he says. Iris kneels
down beside Grace and whispers: you have your

husband who loves you madly and me to care for you
in all things I can. Grace cries as she has not done
for sometime. In her mind's eye she thinks of Clive
who died at Dunkirk the year before and who made

love to her before the bombing and his death. She
senses Philip kiss her cheek. And Iris's hand touching
her thigh. Now she wants to live, last year she wanted to die.
A BLIND LEGLESS WOMAN IS MARRIED IN 1941
Terry Collett Apr 2017
Guy and Donald visit me
in the hospital grounds
where I sit in a wheelchair
in the warm sun.

My blind eyes
look towards each one
as they speak.

Philip's away
a few days
he told us
but he'll be back
within the week
Guy says.

Where has he gone?
I ask.

Can't say
hush hush
but he'll be back
Guy says.

Back safe
Donald adds.

Where is safe
in this war?

Good point
Guy says
taking my hand
but he will back.

How are you
getting along?
Donald says.

I am to be measured
for artificial legs
I am told
I say.

That'd be good
Guy says
back on your
feet again.

Not my feet though
I reply
I'll have to fit them
on each day
and take them off
at night before bed.

You'll manage
Guy says
you are
a determined woman
who knows her mind.

Am I?
not sure I have
that mind any more
lost my legs
and my sight
and Clive.

Someone up there
has it in for me
I say.

Yes the Germans
Donald says
and you will
show them
you have courage
and will not
let them
see you down.

I wipe my eyes
with a handkerchief
from my
dressing gown pocket.

Shall we push you
around the grounds?
Guy says.

It is all
the same to me
I can't see anything
I say.

It is silent
for a few moments.

Look Grace
we have to go
keep your chin up
Guy says.

Yes be strong
Donald says.

Then they go
after kissing my cheek
and I sit feeling
undone and weak.
A WOMAN IN A LONDON HOSPITAL IN 1940 GETS A VISIT.
Terry Collett Mar 2017
Life changing
the Blitz bomb
took my sight
and my legs.

Clive gone too
at Dunkirk.

I recall
our last kiss
as the train
left London.

I sit in
this darkness.

Hospital
smells around
and voice sounds.

Morning Grace
a voice says.

My blind eyes
turn around
to the sound.

Who is it?
I enquire.

Doctor Clay
I have come
to see you
and see how
your stumps are
the voice says.

They're painful
I tell him.

Nurse we need
Grace to be
lying down.

Between them
they lift me
on the bed.

Fingers lift
my nightdress
and unwrap
bandages.

Fresh air hits
the leg stumps.

His fingers
examine
what is left
of my legs.

They're healing
very well
he tells me.

Soon we will
have someone
sort you out
for new legs
he informs.

I thank him.

He goes off
and the nurse
(small fingered)
now attends
to some fresh
bandages.

As her fingers
touch my thighs
I recall
Clive touching
me there too
that last time
before he left
for the War.

I stare out
into dark
cold spaces
and a far
away shore.
A BLIND LEGLESS WOMAN IN LONDON IN 1940
Terry Collett Feb 2017
I hear birds singing
and feel the warm sun
on my uplifted face,

I have been wheeled
into the grounds
of the hospital
I hear voices of others
I cannot see
my blind eyes turn
in the direction of sound,

I still have Philip's words
about marriage in my ears
and it unsettles me
as we hardly
know each other
and I without sight or legs
would be a burden on him
and I do not want his pity
although he says it is love,

I have told no one
about his proposal
it seems too unsettling
to talk about it yet
but I sit here
and look into darkness
and feel empty inside
as if I have opened a door
and blackness entered into me
and I feel lost,

I am dependant on others
on things which others
cope with on their own
and when they will and can
while I have to be taken places
and lifted or carried
to the toilet or bath,

I hear someone talk
as they pass by
another replies
far off the hum
of traffic
and a nearby laugh.
A BLIND AND LEGLESS WOMAN IN HOSPITAL IN 1940 LONDON.
Terry Collett Nov 2016
As I turn my blind eyes
to the sun(I feel its warmth),
I think of the Degas paintings
that Clive took me to see

at a London gallery: the
colours and the figures and
the shades of blues and pinks.
Now it is just a memory, and

as I sit here in the hospital
grounds in the wheelchair,
I have a sudden panic knowing
I will never see again, never

see a rainbow or see a blossom
or see the sunrise, and know
that Clive will never come again,
not since his death at Dunkirk,

and that last kiss, that last time
of making love, and I know I
shall never make love again,
and feel with my hands to where

my legs used to be, and feel
the bandaged stumps, and feel
them there, my fingers moving
over them. The sun is still warm

on my head, and when I turn my
face to the sun, I sense a kiss from
a while ago, and will I kiss again?
I ask myself and I want to know.
A WOMAN LEGLESS AND BLIND AFTER AN EXPLOSION IN 1940
Terry Collett Oct 2016
I am lifted
by two nurses;
(I hear them
talk to each other)
and stare at each in turn
with my blind eyes,
hoping they won't
drop me.

They lay me
on a trolley,
and then push me
on the trolley past others,
and voices and sounds
coming and going.

Where are we going ?
I ask.

To see Doctor Quinn,
he wants to see
how the leg stumps
are healing,
a nurse says
close to me.

How are my stumps?
I ask.

They seem to be
healing quite well,
a nurse says,
but the doctor wants
to see for himself.

I lie quiet after that
and we enter
a warmer room,
and I grab sounds
as I pass
trying to make
a picture in my mind
about where we are.

We come to a standstill,
and a man's voice says:
ah, Miss Meadows,
I am Doctor Quinn,
I am here to examine
your leg stumps
to see how
they are healing.

I say nothing;
I just nod my head,
and wait.

I sense his fingers
unwrap the bandages,
and I feel his fingers
near my skin;
he removes the bandages,
and fresh air
hits my skin.

Yes they look fine,
he says,
his fingers touch me,
lifts the stumps
one after the other:
I think we can soon
decide about maybe
artificial legs.

Artificial legs?
I say,
imagining
god knows what.

You will need
to learn how
to walk again
in a sense of course,
he says,
but it will come
and we will have you
on your feet again
I am sure,
he says,
but it will be a time
as there is a huge demand
at the moment
in wartime for them
as you can appreciate,
he adds,
not giving me a chance
to speak.

Right nurse
re-bandage
fresh bandages,
and keep
the stumps clean.

He goes
and I lie there
thinking and looking
into darkness
with a dumb stare.
A BLIND LEGLESS WOMAN IN A  LONDON HOSPITAL IN 1940
Terry Collett Sep 2016
Guy and Philip
are with me
on the grass
in the hospital grounds.

I'm in a wheelchair,
they are nearby.

I hear them,
but not see them
with my blind eyes,
but look in their direction.

Take me?
I ask.

A car ride
into the countryside
for a picnic,
Guy says.

And where am I to go
if the call of nature comes?
I say.

I'm sure there'll be
a inn nearby or hotel
for you to use,
Guy says.

And who will help me
and carry me
without my legs?
I say,
becoming annoyed.

There is silence.

Never thought of that,
says Philip,
touching my hand
(I assume it
is Philip).

It is bad enough in here
with nurses around
to get attention
and get there on time,
let alone
in some countryside,
I say.

Yes sorry about that, Grace,
Guy says,
back to the drawing board.

Maybe we will
have to settle
for somewhere nearer,
Philip says.

St James Park is nearest,
I say,
there will be fine.

They agree
and we are silent
for a few moments.

How are you coping?
Guy asks suddenly,
leaning closer to me.

Not easy being blind
and without legs,
stuck in hospital
until I can find
somewhere to live
and a nurse or someone
to help me,
I say,
looking in the direction
of Guy's voice.

The bombing has left
a lot of people homeless,
Philip says,
maybe once your stumps
have healed sufficiently
you can stay
at my place,
I can arrange
for a nurse or two
to attend you.

Live with you?
What would people
say to that?
I say.

As a guest,
he says,
all above board
nothing underhand.

I look towards
his voice.

We'll have to see
how things go,
I reply,
thank you Philip.

They talk of other things;
I listen:
talk of the War
and bombings
and Churchill's speeches
and rationing
and so on.

I think of another life
when I could dance
and see and make love
to Clive before
his death at Dunkirk,
and that last time
we had ***
and it was so hot,
and now I feel
utterly depressed
that I can't be bothered
to listen
to the rest.
A BLIND AND LEGLESS WOMAN IN LONDON IN 1940
Terry Collett Aug 2016
How was
St James' Park,
Grace?
A nurse asks me
as I sit
in a wheelchair
by my bed.

I turn my blind eyes
towards her:
good to go out
and smell
and hear
London out
of this ward,
I say.

She tucks in
the blanket around
my bandaged leg stumps.

You look better now,
the sun has caught you,
she says,
anything
I can get you?

New legs and eyes?
I say.

Eyes not possible,
but legs maybe
once your stumps
have healed
there is a good chance,
she replies.

I sense her
near me.

Sorry if I am
in a mood,
I say,
I think that man Philip
is trying to propose
or something like it
and I'm not ready
for that now.

She touches
my hand:
give it time
there are more
difficult times ahead
to worry about
than that,
she says.

She goes:
I hear her shoes
on the floor
going away from me.

I sense tears
in my eyes;
I stare into darkness.

Why would he
want me?

What future would he
have with me now?

Not pity
I couldn't have
someone marry
out of pity,
I mutter to myself.

I reach down
and touch my leg stumps
with my fingers
to make sure
they are still there
and I haven't
grown legs
or maybe it is
a dream or nightmare.

They are there
and the reality
of the legs gone
thumps my breast,
my heart.

I grab the sides
of the wheelchair
and bang them
with my hands
and break down
and cry
and say
why?
why?
why?
A BLIND LEGLESS WOMAN IN 1940 AND A NURSE AND HER DEPRESSION
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