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The Pattern

Wendy French, Family Therapist – NHS psychiatric hospital and Head Teacher – Psychiatric hospital NHS school.

Blu-tacked against the window, translucent paper

cut and folded to create a dress

for the young girl who dreams in her hospital bed

in morphine induced sleep.

Saturday is her wedding day; nurses’ hands

work against the dark to match the pattern

to white silk with pinned on satin roses.

This bride will be wheeled down corridors

to where she’ll make promises. To have and to hold

knowing a life might last a week. Still the chaplain

takes her through her vows. Favourite nurses

will be maids of honour; carry the intravenous drip,

ensure the wheelchair doesn’t catch her dress.

Night bears down upon the ground.

Off-duty nurses gather, smooth, tack and stitch.


This poem was first published in Born in the NHS, which I co-wrote with Jane Kirwan. We are both doctors' daughters and both worked for the NHS for years. In 2013 we were alarmed at the privatisation and changes that were being made to our beloved health service. Unfortunately it is no better today. This poem was then included in the anthology. This poem is dedicated to the nurses, who day in and day out, are caring for all patients in spite, at the the present time, of the danger to their own lives. Thank you to all carers everywhere.

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