Poetry Quiz: Hospitals

Extracts from 14 poems - 13 on the theme of hospitals (or hospital-related) and one other. Name the poets (and the poems if you can), the odd one out, and why! 

1. The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea, / And comes from a country far away as health

2. A booklet muffled up in cellophane, / Unwrapped it gently, opening at a page – / Characteristic cottage garden, seen / Through chintzy casement windows. Underneath / Some cosy musing in the usual vein, / And see, he said, this is what keeps me going.

3. When I was near death, / these little nurses / stripped me naked / and bathed me. / When it appeared / I would live, / they covered / my loins / with a sheet.

4. Sleep. Milk. Heat. Every day / she held me up to the window and wagged / my fist at my sister, down in the street, who / waved her cone back at me so / hard the ice cream flew through the air like a / butter-brickle cannonball, / otherwise it was sleep and milk.

5. Life is a hospital ward, and the beds we are put in / are the ones we don’t want to be in. / We’d get better sooner if put over by the window.

6. I see two dirty white, punctured tennis-shoes, / empty and planted on the one-man path. / I have no doubt where they will go. They walk / the one life offered from the many chosen.

7. I shall not soon forget / The greyish-yellow skin / To which the face had set / Lids tight: nothing of his / No tremor from within, / Played on his surfaces.

8. He said it doesn’t look good / he said it looks bad in fact real bad / he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before / I quit counting them / I said I’m glad I wouldn’t want to know / about any more being there than that

9. ...or unless its powers / Outbuild cathedrals nothing contravenes / The coming dark, though crowds each evening try // With wasteful, weak, propitiatory flowers.

10. What similarities – / boots, hands, the family voice / I felt in my throat, or even / the National Geographic / and those awful hanging breasts – held us all together / or made us all just one?

11. Child, the current of your breath is six days long. / You lie, a small knuckle on my white bed; / lie, fisted like a snail, so small and strong / at my breast. Your lips are animals; you are fed with love.

12. Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes / Passed from him to the strong men that were whole. / How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come / And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?

13. Night, with a gust of wind, was in the ward, / Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve. / Night. He was blind; he could not see the stars / Glinting among the wraiths of wandering cloud.

14. Yet I shall cry, no doubt from loneliness, / From being far away from those I love, / Or any reason I can conjure later. / But are the tears themselves, I wonder, still / A sort of ceremony I must follow, / A childish ritual, necessity?

ANSWERS