January Create: Hospital Time

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Thoughts on 'Time standing still'.

Hospital Time

A patient in hospital.

For whom does time stand still? In an attempt to answer this question, I turned to Shakespeare. He gives Rosalind in As You Like It the response. 'Lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term and term, and then they perceive not how Time moves.' I've never been a lawyer, so has time stood still for me?

Some years ago, I was taken ill and admitted to hospital. I won't bore you with details of my illness, but I needed an operation and ended up spending a whole month there. Much of that time, I was bored. I read newspapers and books and talked to anyone who was prepared to respond. When I was well enough, I walked round the hospital building, in my pyjamas and dressing gown. I got glimpses of other wards, individual rooms, places where out-patients waited and consultations were carried out. Looking out of the windows, I could see trees, other parts of the building and car parks. Down there, in the world outside, people were coming and going, parking cars, unloading vans, working or chatting, getting on with their lives. I felt oddly removed, as if I had stepped out of ordinary life into some other realm. Aware that time in the hospital had slowed, if not stopped, I wrote this poem.

Time drips with saline solution
through a slow summer afternoon.
It hangs with floral-printed curtains
where patients wait for consultations.
Time slumps where silver-haired women
snooze until meal-time trolleys trundle.
But do not hasten slothful time.
Here in this quiet room it trickles
Imperceptibly to the eternal sea.

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