The Sunshine Room
Two days at Barts Hospital
“Morning! I’m the registrar.”
(…. this is worse than the butchery at Smithfield!
Coming to Cobalt Two will cut up your soul….)
“If you’d just bring your daughter this way, please.
All we do today, dear, is measure you up:
angular blue lines here, here, on your temples,
to position the blocks of lead
which will protect your eyes.”
(…. and turn heads in the street!)
“Children do love going to the Sunshine Room.”
(…. old enough to understand she must lie still,
but not young enough not to know what she’s got ….)
“Do give her time to look around afterwards.”
(Appreciate our concern, huddled over microscopes,
earnest laboratories sorting cells,
curing that today, and perhaps this tomorrow ….)
“Bye, now, see you again, tomorrow, dear,
and don’t wash that warpaint off for three weeks!”
She’s got blue lines on her bare scalp especially for today.
The new girl.
There are older ones – you can tell they’ve been here before:
believers in the just-audible hello –
the life-enhancing chemistry of nicely forced smiles;
house-proud mind-tidiers, trying to hack the ivy out.
At least the older ones are well behaved,
setting a good example, which looks like courage
to the new girl whose name has just been called.
Suddenly, her life’s like a nasty end to a children’s story,
turning on her, snarling, reaching for her throat,
as she enters the lift down to the Sunshine Room.
And afterwards, off to St. Katharine Docks to see the yachts.
Come on, now, your headscarf’s very pretty.
Yes, we’ll be getting your uniform tomorrow.
Of course, you’ll be going to your new school next week.