On Nurses

Surely this is more a calling than a job. The doldrums of the nightshift

pierced with the odd life-threatening injury, applying pressure to a

gaping wound.  Their nurses’ shoes clip-clopping down the halls, the

thoughts of patients’ suffering or dead following them back home.

Surely they know that life is random, how death can creep up on the

innocent. But how their instincts can sometimes pull spirits back

from the brink into their bodies. Like midwives to the spirit. In that

moment, do they forget the training and think, if I do this, perhaps

they will live? Can you train instinct? I’m not sure. They see it all: the

birth, the death, the vomit , the blood, the shock, the diseased, the

perturbed, the pain, the smiles. I see them pressing their uniforms

for the next shift, washing their hands with a soap that makes their

palms peel.

from A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press, 2019), © Roger Robinson 2019, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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Roger Robinson is a fervent, generous poet. His most recent collection, A Portable Paradise, won both the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize and ...

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