Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Ross Wilson


    Vital Organs


ICU, Easter, 2020


An outsider looking in might imagine
they were seeing the interior of a space ship;
ventilators, dialysis machines, monitors
surrounded a station full of computers
and strange-looking creatures,
indistinguishable from one another.

In gowns, masks, goggles and gloves
with only a scribble like a tattoo above
the heart to tell who was who and what part
they played in a war against an invisible enemy
on a battlefield set up to monitor and measure
heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure.

They moved around proned bodies
as if they themselves were one body.
Seven surrounded a bed,
three down either flank, one at the head
like a Captain turning a wheel
while talking a crew through a maneuver.

One dropped an Actichlor tablet into a bucket
and screwed a mop-head to a pole like a bayonet.
Another wheeled a dirty linen hamper.
One does obs. Two made up drugs.
Another set up a trolley for intubation.
One spoke to a visitor via Zoom.

An insider looking in wouldn’t know a porter
from a doctor, a domestic from a nurse.
Amid machines bleeping and flashing,
staff in aprons and gowns like layers of skin
worked as vital organs: each had a function;
they did one job so other jobs could be done.


    Day & Night


That day we went puddle-hunting in our wellies.
Whenever we caught a good one, we jumped in
to see if it hid a big splash or a wee splash.

Back home I found Ticklies nesting in your oxters:
wee birdies who feed fledglings on toddler-giggles!
Then it was sleepy-time for you; work-time for me.

That night, in full PPE, I was sent for a body bag
and went behind curtains drawn on a man's last day.