Some thoughts on Sarah Broom’s ‘Ward 64’

I was supposed to be reading today. Something to take my mind off things. A new book by a favourite author, taking me to a post-apocalyptic world where a struggle rages between those who see knowledge as valuable and seek to preserve it and those who see knowledge as dangerous and seek to destroy it

It worked for a while, which is a tribute to the book, but my mind kept turning to darker things. 100,000 dead from COVID 19. All those people in our hospitals: medical staff trying their best and hoping not to get ill and die. and people in COVID’s grip, hoping the staff can keep them breathing.

They’re hard images to rid myself of. So I thought I’d give myself some time properly to imagine what’s happening.

I found a poem the New Zealand poet, Sarah Broom. It’s one that doctors in Scotland are given as part of their training. Sarah Broom found she had lung cancer when she was pregnant with her third child in 2008. She died in 2013.  Her poem ‘Ward 64’ comes from her 2010 poetry collection ‘Tigers at Awhitu’.

I think it captures the controlled feat and nurtured hope that I might feel in her place.

I don’t believe in God, so I have no one to pray to but I still need a way to focus my emotions structure my empathy. This poem is the best I have to offer today to all those people, staff and patients, who are facing their fears and their hopes in hospital.

Some words of warning: the last two lines may make you cry.

One thought on “Some thoughts on Sarah Broom’s ‘Ward 64’

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