Fly in a Hospital

The bluebottle, in helmet and goggles, circuits the ward, 

a mad aviator who will end up in Casualty. Beds glide past 

like battleships rising out of the mist of a warm sea; 

on board, the infirm drift towards the horizon of their pain 

or the sure footfall of land. It stops. Plaster of Paris 

is warily explored by six legs; oiled suckers 

scale the smooth incline that coats a tibia, until 

a launch towards the menu of new discovery: 

four-star restaurant of the sluice, chic diner of damp sheets. 

Everywhere nurses frown like distracted doormen 

at its presence; its appetite is frequently denied 

by waving hand, brandished magazine. Rumour has it 

the basement contains a delicatessen of cold meat, 

name-tags gracing big toes. For now, shrivelled grape 

and crumpled tissue suffice, though it hopes 

for a used dressing before the day is out. Wings  

beat on, conveying it to the curtailment of desire: 

gorged satisfaction; exhaustion locking it to a ceiling; 

houseman’s irritated swot. Until then, to cruise 

is to live, chained to the freedom of hunger and disease, 

magnetised by bound wound and drained groin, 

sickened by its own aerial insistence. 

from Qwerty (Seren 1995), © Paul Groves 1995, used by permission of the author

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