…by Phyllis McCormack
(written in 1966 while working as a Nurse)
What do you see nurses,what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me,
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes.
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice,
"I do wish you'd try".
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, quite unresisting lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still.
As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten, with a father and mother
brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon a true lover she'll meet.
A bride now at twenty - my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At forty my sons will soon be all gone
But my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead
I look to the future, I shudder with dread
For my young are all busy with young of their own
And I think of the years and the love I have known.
I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel.
'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
There is a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living all over again.
I think of the years, all too few - gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see.
Not a crabby old woman, look closer - SEE ME.
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