The Ghost Hospital by Pauline Rowe
In this new feature, we re-visit some Maytree classics that you may have missed along the way.
What better way to start than the 2020 Saboteur Award runner up (to another Maytree pamphlet).
Written mainly during Pauline’s research for her PHD, The Ghost Hospital is a dark and sometimes harrowing collection that explores the unnerving world of health care in the 1800s. Whilst the themes of love, loss, legacy and illness may be universal, the setting is as unique as each of the seventeen poems in this stunning book.
Pauline’s second collection, The Weight of Snow won the 2021 Saboteur Award and has now sold out. Don’t miss out of this treasure from our archives.
watching ‘R.D.Laing Has No Face’ on YouTube
You look like a fine,
or mime artist.
Do you follow the news
in the dark or shadow land –
can you hear us think about you?
When we read your books
are you released
from some small agony?
Like a plenary indulgence?
I watch your face become
your mother’s face
– what you remembered
as your mother’s face
how you try to emulate
her mask of sorrow,
in your own features
the expression that flooded
her cruel face, one rare day –
when your father brought home
a birthday gift, a small box
within a larger box;
anticipation deliberately engineered
for his pleasure,
fragments of him,
ten cut toe-nails
from his hard, dirty feet.
I bequeath him my skull
(inside which he leads another life),
my hip bones, the roots of my teeth, my scars,
the ones tight with secrets like lieder,
the ones that ache when it rains.
I go back in dreams to that cold kitchen,
stirring porridge on a 2-ring stove.
I didn’t see the devil that winter
nor dress even the smallest tree.
I forgot the accommodations of ribbons
though there was frost enough for two.
It replays itself, his head to one side,
playful, keeping his word, so real
I can taste his breath.
My desire then was a pearl –
perfect, no start, no end, no memory of grit.