by Neil Fulwood
They’ve made an effort:
cheerful décor, in-date magazines,
seating arranged asymmetrically
as if disrupting order could con us out of our fears,
as if we’d forget
this is a waiting room.
plate glass windows like an IMAX screen.
Are architects untroubled by vertigo?
Below, a scene without a soundtrack:
trucks and heavy plant, workmen
colour-coded into anonymity
by hi-viz tabards and hard hats,
the scarred landscape of redevelopment.
Those of us on the orthopaedic list
do our best to ignore the guy
operating the pneumatic drill. All of us
do our best to ignore the antiseptic smell
that gives the place away.
They’ve made an effort: it’s a treatment centre
not a hospital, a procedure
not an operation, a daycase unit
not a ward. But scrubs are blue
and facemasks reduce experts in their field
to pairs of eyes we hope are alert,
pairs of hands we trust will be steady.
We have attended for assessment,
we have signed consent forms,
we can stack up a library of horror fiction
and find it wanting
compared to the phrase ‘known complications’.
And what we’re unsure of
is what will be worse: the sound
of our name when they call us through
or the soft assurances of the anaesthetist.
Outside, a JCB moves forwards
and pivots (relax: count backwards from ten),
the slow arc of its bucket
describing a deep and ragged incision.
Neil Fulwood is the author of film studies book The Films of Sam Peckinpah. His poetry has been featured in Art Decades, Lunar Poetry, The Black Light Engine Room and others. He runs film revue blog The Agitation of the Mind (misterneil.blogspot.com)