Waiting Room, Ward 5b

Half five. The sky thickens to darkness
through the grime on the tall windows,
the claw marks of rain. Someone whistles

in the corridor. The drinks machine
hums ceaselessly. The TV bracket
is an empty gibbet, a bookcase

has only a dog-eared bible. On its cover
angelic hosts point and gossip,
curling in on themselves. They know

they can’t compete with Mammon
in the form of a battered box of Monopoly
which will have pieces missing.

Someone’s tried to make it homely –
walls hint of magnolia, pictures
of the Bristol we haven’t seen: swans, ships,

half-timbered houses. We stare at them
in the concrete infirmary, waiting our turn
to stare at unconscious loved ones.


Suzanna Fitzpatrick (she/her) has had poems aired on BBC Radio 4 and widely published in magazines and anthologies in the UK, US, and Canada. Her pamphlets are Fledglings (2016) and Crippled (due 2024) (both Red Squirrel Press).