The women with two handbags – Christine Michael

The women with two handbags

In waiting rooms,
in A & E, in corridors
hovering outside a cubicle,
we try to catch the eye
of somebody who knows,
but not get in their way;

instead we recognise each other,
shrug, and smile;
we are not our names now
but ‘the daughter of bed 6’
or ‘the woman who’s with the stroke’

in blood test units,
holding numbered tickets,
perched on plastic chairs
outside the X-ray suite;

we are the women with two handbags:

one our own, dumped
on the floor or nearest chair, stuffed
with domestic life support;
phones and tissues,
car keys, appointment cards,
KitKats and coins,

the other worn and almost empty,
lying flat, cradled on our laps;

we recognise each other,
holding on with both hands,
the women entrusted
with this one last, precious thing.


Christine Michael organises the Poetry Society’s Stratford-upon-Avon Stanza group. Her work has been published in Mslexia.

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