this very afternoon, this day –
picking up tomatoes, cheese, bread,
things I want and shall be using
to make myself a meal, while they
eat their stodgy suppers in bed:
Janet with her big freckled breasts,
her prim Scots voice, her one friend,
and never in hospital before,
who came in to have a few tests
and now can’t see where they’ll end;
and Coral by the bed by the door
who whimpered and gasped behind a screen
with nurses to and fro all night
and far too much of the day;
pallid, bewildered, nineteen.
And Mary, who will be all right
but gradually. And Alice, who may.
Whereas I stand almost intact,
giddy with freedom, not with pain.
I lift my light basket, observing
how little I needed in fact;
and move to the checkout, to the rain,
to the lights and the long street curving.