My leopard-print pyjama trousers,
embroidered roses on my untied boots;
the mad flung mess of my hair, red ebbed out
and seeped into vein-torn eyeballs.
Tight stitching on the nurse’s shirt,
the meandering coil of wires and tubes
meeting and feeding yellow flesh,
goosebumps as my veins gulp the fluid.
Each black mark on the clock as another minute passes.

Numbers that flash and beep and go in boxes hourly,
numbers that mean I’m getting better or worse,
or staying the same like the square ceiling tiles
counted over and over; white in the day,
burnt orange at night from the foyer where
the lights are still on, like a school residential
where we all need reminding there are
no monsters. None under the beds, just
in our cells, in ourselves.

Tortoiseshell hands when the temperature drops,
my tattoos clinging to bone.
Blue ovals on the privacy curtains that
the old lady opposite says ‘look rude’
before she gets too yellow to stay and is
wheeled along the speckled floor tiles to
another ward. Those white spots
on the grainy ultrasound – those white spots
that make my blood tests spike, make me a statistic.

Cherry Doyle, poet of the month, June 2016.