A poem about humanity


Kate, the writer of this poem, was unable to speak, but was occasionally seen to write.
After her death, her hospital locker was emptied and this poem was found.


  What do you see nurses
        What do you see?
Are you thinking
        when you are looking at me

A crabbit old woman
        not very wise,
Uncertain of habit
        with far-away eyes,

Who dribbles her food
        and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice
        'I do wish you'd try'

Who seems not to notice
        the things that you do,
And forever is losing
        a stocking or shoe,

Who unresisting or not
        lets you do as you will
with bathing and feeding
        the long day to fill,

Is that what you're thinking
        is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse
        You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am
        as I sit here so still,
As I use at your bidding
        as I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten
        with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who
        love one another,

A young girl of sixteen
        with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now
        a lover she'll meet:

A bride soon at twenty,
        my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows
        that I promised to keep:

At twenty-five now
        I have young of my own
Who need me to build
        a secure happy home.

A young woman of thirty
        my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other
        with ties that should last:

At forty my young ones
        now grown will soon be gone,
But my man stays beside me
        to see I don't mourn:

At fifty once more
        babies play round my knee,
Again we know children
        my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me,
        my husband is dead,
I look at the future
        I shudder with dread,

For my young are all busy
        rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years
        and the love I have known;

I'm an old woman now
        and nature is cruel,
'I' is her jest to make
        old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles,
        grace and vigour depart,
There now is a stone
        Where once I had a heart:

But inside this old carcase
        a young girl still dwells,
And now and again
        my battered hearth swells,

I remember the joys,
        I remember the pain,
And I'm moving and living
        life over again,

I think of the years
        all too few - gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact
        that nothing can last.

So open your eyes nurses,
        Open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman,
        look closer   see ME


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