Saturday, October 01, 2005

Nice Wheelchair

Guten Tag!

The Scotsman has published half of the poem Nice Wheelchair, in their poem of the week slot. (Space restrictions meant they couldn't publish the full poem). No such restrictions here in blog world. Nice Wheelchair is taken from 'Seats for Landing' available to buy from

Nice Wheelchair

‘That looks a nice one,’ says Dr Walker, standing erect.
I smile at her from my bed.
Luftwaffe grey with tyres the colour of dough;
It’s more compact than I expect -
for the right fit, a woman from social services
draped her measuring tape
around my bony pyjama-ed hips.

Okay, I’ll consent to being in a Nice Wheelchair,
if, just say, I was on my way
to the labour suite;
a full-mooned belly bursting with new life.

Outside for the first time in four years
I notice kerbs and weather in my wheelchair.
Any weather is better than no weather.
I learn that babies are the only people
who dare to look you in the eye.
Hello bold, bright-eyed babies, I salute you!
I am one of your kind:
a 22-year-old baby
in a big buggy
brushing past tinsel in Woolies.

A handsome security guard holds open swing doors
as my mother manoeuvres me into sharp December air.
This is not meant to be, I want to tell him,
this is not the real me.

We drink tea from paper cups, my mother and I,
just so I can watch everyone walking by
behind a wall of glass. I sit in the regular seating
and hide the wheelchair behind plastic palms.

It is a stick that eventually waves it off.
A Quentin Crisp walking stick, steadying me
to the next lamppost and the next
until it is just a prop, a driftwood strut
and I can leave it behind too.

In January’s milky sun, I am walking alone.
I am using shoes – oh the thrill of chunky black shoes.
Look at me everyone!
I am Neil Armstrong, I am Fred Astaire,
I’m walking on ground, not air.


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